Column: A Chilton holiday tradition — The Masonic Lodge #423

Published 10:08 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

As residents begin to decorate for the holidays, set the table and prepare for Thanksgiving guests to arrive, one Clanton organization has become quite central in assisting locals with the holiday meal. The Masonic Lodge #423 has provided ready-to-serve hams and turkeys for generations to local residents. Holiday hams and turkeys have been sold for at least sixty years as a single means to raise funds for lodge maintenance and donate to local charities and organizations.

The Clanton lodge donates to Operation: Santa Claus, Maplesville’s Toys for Kids program, Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center, Raleigh’s Place, the Emergency Assistance Center and the Department of Human Resources’ efforts to help foster children at Christmas among other charities.

“Through our fundraising we are able to raise money to help local organizations at Christmas and how we contribute in making the world a better place,” said Masonic Chaplain Sam Hayes. “(The Masons) are about making men better men.”

In the early years of preparing holiday entrees, Masonic Lodge #423 prepared and sold BBQ plates on the Fourth of July, but eventually shifted to selling whole Boston butts. The popularity of that shift has led them to expand and add additional selections at Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day and of course Thanksgiving, expanding their menu to include hams, turkeys and ribs to suit the needs of the specific holiday.

The Mason’s holiday meats are cooked and smoked in two large commercial smokers, which can hold up to 96 Boston Butts. Cooking time varies depending on the meat but ranges between four to 12 hours. The quantity of turkeys and hams prepared also varies each season but ranges between 100-300 sales.

The deadline to order a Thanksgiving ham or turkey is Nov. 12 and by contacting Eastern Star member Jennifer Carter at 205-258-5528. Pickup will be Nov. 22 before noon at the Clanton Masonic Lodge at 307 8th Street N. For those looking to purchase a ham or turkey but did not pre-order one, remaining extras will be sold just before noon. All items are $35.

The lodge maintains a calling list of returning customers and is open to adding new names to the list for each holiday sale. Women of the Clanton Order of the Eastern Star, Chapter 271, took on the role of calling customers a few years back and also receive support from the events.

The Clanton Masonic Lodge is a fraternal organization that is subordinate to the Alabama Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.