Luverne peanut boil raises

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 1999

funds for Shriner’s Hospital


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Published Sept. 2, 1999

The first sign of Labor Day is the long line of motorists who are following their noses to the World’s Largest Peanut Boil in Luverne.

For 24 years, boiled peanuts have been synonymous with Labor Day weekend in South Alabama and across the Florida Panhandle. Flames are put under the pots on the Wednesday before Labor Day and burn until the close of the holiday on Monday.

This year alone, the Luverne Shriners will boil 18 tons of goober peas and parch another ton of the legumes to raise funds to support the Shriners’ hospital and research and the Alcazar Temple.

"In 1922, when the first Shriners Hospital opened in Shreveport, La., it marked a commitment the Shrine of North American has continued for generations – helping children build better lives," said Dr. William Beall of Luverne.

Beall said the Shrine is an international fraternity that has built 22 Shriners Hospitals, which have become known as the "World’s Greatest Philanthropy."

"This network of no-cost hospitals offers quality care to children with orthopaedic problems, burns and spinal cord injuries, up to their 18th birthday, absolutely free of charge," Beall said.

Shriners Hospitals for Children have been in existence for more than three-quarters of a century. Through the years, this network of pediatric specialty hospitals has been responsible for improving the quality of life for more than 600,000 children under the age of 18.

Twenty-three years ago, a group of Luverne Shriners decided they might be able to raise a little money for the hospitals by selling bags of the boiled peanuts. A couple of farmers donated a truck load of green peanuts and the Shriners sat under a pecan tree at Aubrey Alford’s house and picked them off the vine.

"That year, we sold $400 worth of boiled peanuts and we’ve been at it ever since," Alford said.

The popularity of the peanut boil grew and soon it was worthy of the title, "The World’s Largest."

Today, people come from near and far to be a part of this fall harvest tradition and the Shriners sell far more than $400 worth of goober peas.

"We have contributed more than $128,500 to the Shriners Children’s Hospitals but, in return, we have received more than $1.67 million in services to children in our area and it didn’t cost any one of them a penny," said Beall, who closes his dental office the week before Labor Day each fall to help with the boil. "I donate to other charities but I work for the Shriners."

Beall said the Shriners’ commitment to save children’s lives and restore their bodies to the highest level of usefulness is a purpose of the highest kind.

"No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child" and the Shriners stand tall each and every day as their organization continually "stoops" to help children.

To date, more than 600,000 children have been helped at the 22 Shriners Hospitals including 601,814 operations performed, 7,360,141 X-rays taken, 899,454 braces and prostheses applied, 5,497,890 outpatient and outreach clinic visits and 12,710,611 physical therapy treatments.

What sets Shriners Hospitals apart is that there is never a charge to the patient or family for any care or services provided.

"The Shriners are here to help children lead better lives and that’s why we’re out here, year after year, boiling peanuts," Beall said, "and that’s why we’ll keep doing it for as long as we can make a few pennies to keep seeking new ways of improving the expert medical care and treatment to children with orthopaedic disabilities and burn injuries. Seeing them lead better lives keeps us boiling."