On January 23rd, 1959, Grand Exalted Ruler Horace Wisely granted dispensation to Businessman Fred Holt and 135 American citizens to form Elks Lodge #2103 in Carmichael. Institution of the Carmichael Elks took place on February 26th in the Encina High School Gymnasium.
The leaders of the new Lodge found an instant way to increase membership: The “Four Horsemen”, Westerner Dirve-In-Theater Manager Barnie Warrick, USAF Col. Bob Klotz, Chef Café owner George Santrizos, and Developer Pug Meredith started the Carmichael Elks 4th of July Parade and Celebration Committee. Also, on the committee was Jim Knudson, founder of Jimboy’s Tacos, Lodge Secretary Ord Bremmer, and pilot George McGinnis. Ord Bremmer and George McGinnis did a fly over and dropped parachutes with gift certificates along the parade route.
Elks membership had soared to 434 when Grand Lodge formally granted the Carmichael Elks Lodge its charter on July 9th, 1959. During 1959, the Lodge met in the back of a drug store on Fair Oaks Blvd. Children of Elks celebrated the first Elks Children’s Christmas Party in the rented storeroom. Several of those children grew up to become Elks themselves.
Then, in 1960, realtor Gene Lewis and developer Pug Meredith secured 9.75 acres at 5631 Cypress Ave. The land had been used as a riding area for local horses. The barn on the .25 acres that wasn’t purchased still stands today behind the Lodge Tennis Courts. The T.V. Show “Mr. Ed” was filmed at the barn.
As a Lodge fundraiser, Bob Klotz and Ord Bremmer sold hot chocolate and doughnuts near the entrance to the 1960 Winter Olympics. By 1961, the cornerstone of the new building was laid. During the early 1960’s, the Bar and the Lodge were all connected. The current Bar Manager’s Office was originally the women’s restroom. In the late 1960’s, young Doug Meredith played for many Lodge dances. In 1968, Olympians Mark Spitz and Debbie Myer helped open the new Elks swimming pool. Tennis courts were added that year as well. In 1970, the Lodge added the Dining Room followed by the addition of the Member’s Game Room. Membership soared to over 2000 members by 1975.
Barnie Warrick coordinated a huge Elks Bicentennial 4th of July Parade in 1976. The parade lasted over three and one-half hours and had over 250 groups. In the mid 1970’s, the Trav'l'n Elks got started. Member Ira David and others then initiated the concept of a Travel Guide for Elks with the proceeds going to the Elks National Foundation, the CHEA Major Project and local charities.
Membership took a decline during the late 1970’s, partially due to the lack of space for events in the Lodge. In 1981-1982, Exalted Ruler (ER) Galen Marcotte turned things around. The 1981 Fourth of July Parade welcomed home "Viet Nam Vets" and was on national television.
ER Galen appointed a new Building Committee. Past Exalted Ruler (PER) Mike Koch was the Project Manager, Joe Mohamed Sr., Joe Mohamed Jr. Bobby and “Pops” Porter were also on the committee. The Lodge gained members in 1982 and the plans for a new ballroom became reality. Donations of time and money poured into the Lodge. During Exalted Ruler Bobby Porter’s year in 1982-83, the ballroom was built.
On June 26th, 1982, the Lodge had its first event on the newly poured cement slab of the future ballroom, the wedding reception of current Leading Knight Jim Warrick and his bride Cathey. Because there the walls and roof had not yet been put up, a giant cargo parachute, used to drop tanks, was used as shade. Future California-Hawaii Elks State Presidents Jack Parker and Roy Newman were there as a sudden gust of wind picked up the parachute and caused it to fall on the 300 reception guests. People just pushed the parachute away and danced to the music of the Velvet Tones Band. As a reward for his contributions, Exalted Ruler Bobby Porter had a peculiar request, he built a state of the art, blue tile shower in the Esquire’s room. It still stands today in perfect condition. He became the only person who ever took a shower in it.
Membership increased by over 100 members in 1982-83. In 1983, the Carmichael Elks Boy Scout Troop 386 adopted a Scout scarf with ER Bobby Porter’s theme, "Red Hot and Rollin". In 1983-84, the Lodge gained 162 members and the final permit was signed off on the Carmichael Elks Ballroom. In 1984-85, the Lodge had another 100-member gain. The front reception office was created.
Past Grand Exalted Ruler (GER), Horace Wisely (the GER who originally signed the Carmichael Elks Charter) was the Grand Marshal for the Elks 25th Annual Fourth of July Parade in 1983.
In 1984, Gary Leander started the Renegade’s Breakfast. That same year, Bob Gales started the Elks Thursday Night Dinners. All through the 1980’s, the Lodge continued to grow until it reached 2900 members. In 1989, the Folsom Elks was formed and the Carmichael Lodge started a period of membership decline but continued its contributions to civic and charitable causes.
McClellan Air Force Base, Mather Air Force Base, and the Army Deport started closing and members transferred to other parts of the country. However, because of lodge activities and a positive presence in the community, the Lodge attracted new members and finally had a net gain in membership in 2007-2008. In 2009, the Carmichael Elks sponsored the 50th Annual Carmichael Fourth of July Parade. Grand Marshal was long-time Lodge Secretary Col. Bill Cridland, one of the charter members initiated at Encina High School in 1959. In the early 2000’s, Ed McCristy started Monday Night Spaghetti.
In 2003, the Lodge officers won the California-Hawaii Elks Ritual Contest and competed at the national level. By 2018, the Trav'l'n Elks had over 100 members. Thursday Night Dinners and the Renegade Breakfast now have over 30 years of operation. Also, today the Carmichael Elks 19th Hole Golf Club sports over 45 members who play in tournaments throughout the year. Because of interesting programs and events, the Lodge the Lodge has steadily maintained a membership of over 1300 for the last ten years.
Carmichael Elks Lodge #2103
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