Cloquet Moose celebrates 100 years

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The Cloquet Moose Lodge quietly celebrated 100 years Aug. 12 without much fanfare, in the same way the organization donates to several local charities and events all year long.

The local Moose Lodge began in 1917 and originally met in a wooden building, which perished in the 1918 fire. After several years, Lodge members were able to purchase a building on Avenue C where they met for many years before selling the building and moving into the old Fire Hall building on Cloquet Avenue.

By 1946 the Cloquet Lodge boasted almost 700 members, according to old records.

Housed in the old brick fire station since the 1970s in the heart of downtown Cloquet, the location is perfect for events tied to local parades.

After the Fourth of July and Labor Day parades, Moose Lodge members provide a barbecue and BINGO open to the public to raise money for charities. One of the favorite programs for some members is the BackPack Program which helps provide local children with nutritious meals.

Moose Lodge President Kevin Getchell feels strongly about the program because he has two young children and has coached youth sports in the past.

"We know kids are going home hungry," said Getchell. "Last year we did a pig roast for the BackPack Program and donated $1,000." He said they plan to hold another event to raise money for the program this year.

While treasurer Shane McGraw's son is older, he favors the BackPack Program also.

"We don't like kids going hungry," said McGraw, adding that he has young grandchildren.

McGraw's wife was active in the Moose when they met and McGraw willingly jumped into the fun.

"It was a prerequisite to joining the family," McGraw joked.

Once he joined he realized it was a fun, family friendly club.

"Some people see us as a bar, but we're more than that," said McGraw. "I like how they donate money back to the community."

McGraw noticed members bring non-members to the bar and soon the non-members want to volunteer to help with programs. They soon find themselves members of the Lodge.

Cloquet resident Bill Gannon is the oldest active member. He joined in 1972 and his wife, Ethel, also served many years with the women's chapter.

"All of my friends are here," said Bill Gannon. So is most of his family.

Two of their three children also joined. Their youngest daughter Patti Haus joined when she was 21 and her sister Sue McGraw also joined. The sisters' husbands, Steve and Shane, became active members over the years, making it a multi-generational family organization. Their children also attend many of the events, such as the 100-year anniversary barbeque last week.

While the Moose Lodge is a closed club, non-members can attend events with a member. Non-members need to be invited by a member to join.

The Gannon family, like many others, have all held many different positions in the organization.

Bill held several positions, including governor (president), junior governor, trustee, as well as several others over the years.

Currently he is the editor of the newsletter.

The Cloquet Moose Lodge also sponsors a Thanksgiving dinner and BINGO for nursing home residents in the surrounding areas and donate to all of the area schools for their graduation lock-in events and Stay Sober proms.

They also participate in nationwide causes, such as Mooseheart, a residential and educational facility outside of Chicago that gives at-risk youth a second chance and a fresh start, according to their pamphlet. The Cloquet members donate and help send youth and, in some cases, even help them go to college.

The Loyal Order of Moose was originally organized in 1888 in Louisville, Ken., as a men's-only social group. It grew and expanded interests over the years until it morphed into the organization it is today. There are a combined 1 million members with the Loyal Order of Moose and Women of the Moose. There are lodges in over 1,500 communities across all 50 states and four Canadian provinces, according to the mooseintl.org website.

The Cloquet Moose Lodge has 200 active male members and the Women of the Moose currently has 220 members and they are always looking to add new members.