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The Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS) has a rich and illustrious history. The first Shrine Temple was organized in 1872 in the New York City Masonic Hall and called Mecca Temple. Initially, it was formed as a fraternal order in which Masons could join together in fellowship and fun. Its world-wide membership numbers about 350,000. The area from which the Heart of Illinois Shriners draws its membership stretches throughout Central Illinois, from the Iowa to Indiana Border.

Shriners are best known for having fun. Members of the Shrine are immediately recognizable by the fezzes they wear and are often seen in parades and as clowns in the Shrine Circus. However, the Shrine is also noted for its charitable works, rather like a service club, most notably the Shriners Children's, which provides medical treatment to children regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.