The first meeting of Kena 500 was held March 9, 1972 at the home of Noble Cecil J. Sills, (later Potentate 1978), and Lady Marie. In the early years, meetings were held in members homes on the first Thursday after the Unit Heads meeting. Meetings are now held in the Unit Room on the same dates. The name Kena 500 was chosen in honor of the Indianapolis 500 race. About 1969, Mini-Corvette Go-Carts were placed in Chevrolet showrooms all over the United States, to advertise the Chevrolet Corvette. Some of these Mini-Corvettes were obtained by the Noble F. Lee Farrish, a car dealer, when Kena 500 was formed.
There were 10 Charter members, five of whose memberships were voided because they did not purchase a car within the prescribed 120 days. Charter members: Noble F. Lee Farrish, Cecil Sills, Chris Christianson, Secretary-Treasurer, Glen Trivet, Jack Veregge, Bob Smith, Hugh Sutherland, Marion Farrish, brother of F. Lee, Joe Dillon, and Bernie McHugh. Other first-year members were James S. Riley (later Potentate 1989), and Noble Glenn Weber. There are five categories of membership: Active Members (drivers with cars), Life Members, (former drivers honored by the unit), Honorary Members (members from outside the unit elected as such), Associate Members (non-drivers), and Senior Members (members no longer fully active as drivers).
Noble F. Lee Farrish was the founding president and principal driving force behind the establishment of Kena 500. He was the First President, drove Car #1, and was known as the "Number 1 Supporter of Kena 500." Noble Cecil Sills, was Vice President, and Chris Christianson, was Secretary/Treasurer. Noble Lee Farrish was claimed by the Black Camel in 1980. Lady Lynn Farrish donated a Walk-in Cooler to Kena Temple to honor F. Lee Farrishs memory.
Unit Presidents. The presidents of Kena 500 were:
1972 F. Lee Farrish
1973 Cecil J. Sills
1974 Melvin Berna
1975 David Dyer/James S. Riley
1976 Glenn Weber
1977 James S. Riley
1978 Marion Farrish
1979 & 1986 Cliff Melvin
1980 Bob Campbell
1981 Jim Kocher
1982 George Scott
1983 L.Wiley/Marion Farrish
1984 Edward L. Berardi 1985 Henry A. Peterson
1987 Robert G. Grindle
1988 Donald L. Simmons
1989 & 1996 I. Wayne Morefield
1990 & 1991 Joseph L. Wileman
1992 & 1993 Delano Farmer
1994 Loren Clark 1995 Paul A. Gilmore
1996 & 1997 Stanley M. Lowry
1998 Donald F. Ritenour
1999 Marvin K. Mac McAfee
2000 Paul W. Wood
2001 Kenneth L. Hall
2002 Glen R. Murphy
The purpose of the unit is to promote Shrinedom, provide for the social well being of the members and to support the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Over the years, Kena 500 gained a reputation for leading the Temple in their support of the Shriners Hospitals. All members are members of the $100 Million Club, are Permanent Contributing Members, and many members names are inscribed in the Gold Book at Philadelphia Hospital, some more than once. The Kena 500 Ladies are also listed in the Gold Book at the Philadelphia Unit more than once. Many members volunteer to drive Kena Hospital Transportation Team Vans carrying patients and sponsors to the Philadelphia Hospital. Five members have earned the Super Transportation Award given by the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital. Nobles Joe Owens, Marvin K. McAfee, Paul W. Wood, Stanley M. Lowry, and Chris Burris, Kena 500, and several others will soon earn the award.
Cars. The official vehicle of the KENA 500 is the Chevy Jr., 1972 Model, built by Rupp Manufacturing, Inc., of Mansfield, Ohio. The first six cars were received in the Spring of 1972 at a cost of $650 each. Another six were received in the Summer of 1972. In February-March 1974, a changeover was begun to install 5-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engines with electric start engines, to replace the original 3.5-horsepower engines. During October-November 1974 six more cars received (total of 18), eventually 24 cars were acquired. The number 1" was retired upon the death of Noble F. Lee Farrish. Since then several members car numbers have been retired upon their deaths. All but two of todays cars are the original cars procured in 1972-74. Various means of transportation were used over the years. Two photos show Doc Browns car # 16 atop his family car roof rack in 1982, and behind his motor home in 2001.
In its 30 years of its existence, Kena 500 has garnered notable milestones and honors for their crowd-pleasing, dare-devil precision driving skills. This internationally-known, award-winning unit makes approximately 25-30 appearances per year, and competes annually in both the Mid-Atlantic Association of Shrine Motor Corps and the South-Atlantic Association of Shrine Motor Corps. In 1996, Kena 500 won the High Point Trophies at both the Mid-Atlantic Association of Shrine Motor Corps and the South-Atlantic Association of Shrine Motor Corps, the first time that KENA 500 won both in the same year. The unit consistently places 1st or 2nd in competition and receives many parade awards each year.
They were the International Association of Shrine Motor Corps champions in 1995 during the Imperial Shrine Convention at Indianapolis, Indiana. A photo of the winning team in front of the Indy Motor Speedway Hall of Fame shows, left to right, Nobles Wayne Morefield, Stan Lowry, Paul Gilmore, Budd Selby and Joe Owens, Noble Ken McCarty, sixth member of the team, was unavailable when the photo was taken. April 4, 1981 all seven South-Atlantic Mini Motor Association (SAMMA) units participated in the National Cherry Blossom Parade, Washington, DC. At an Awards Ceremony held at Kena Temple, the Parade Grand Marshals, movie stars Noble Roy Rogers, and Lady Dale Evans, presented Noble Marion Farrish, Kena 500 President, a trophy for the special unit award. The awards banquet was held in conjunction with the Cherry Blossom Ball sponsored by the Kena Horse Patrol. In October 1981, the Secretary of State of West Virginia, named Kena 500 "Good Will Ambassadors of the State of West Virginia," as a token of appreciation for appearing in the Elkins, WV, Mountain State Forrest Festival Parades (first appearance 1976).
Kena 500 members have appeared in events in three foreign countries (Canada, England, and France), and 14 of the United States plus the District of Columbia. Kena 500 performed outside the United States at Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the 1989 Imperial Shrine convention where they appeared before thousands of parade-watchers in the Imperial Shrine Parade in Toronto. They traveled to London, England, to participate in the Lord Mayor of Westminster's 1994 New Years Day Parade. Kena 500 drivers, wives and cars flew to London from Dulles Airport. There were 7,000 participants in the parade from 15 nations and had 800,000 spectators. In 2001, they traveled to Paris, France, December 27, 2001 through January 4, 2002, a distance of 3,828 miles each way for a total of 7,656 miles round trip for parades sponsored by the Youth Music for the World organization. This is the longest trip made by Kena 500 to date for an appearance. In April 1983, a deluge greeted the 500 in the Cherry Blossom Parade. In the April 1990 National Cherry Blossom Parade, Washington DC, 13 Cars showed up for the parade, two broke down before the parade started, two broke down during the parade, and Del Farmer turned his little car over on Constitution Avenue, the only recorded rollover incident known to have happened
Five Kena 500 members have served as Kena Potentate: Ill. Cecil J. Sills, 1978; Ill. James S. Riley, 1989; Ill. I. Wayne Morefield, 1994; Ill. Joseph L. Wileman, 1996; and Ill. Kenneth L. Hall,1999. Noble Stan Lowry, is currently serving on the Divan as Oriental Guide. Four members have held the office of President in the South-Atlantic Mini-Motor Association. Nobles Henry A. Peterson 1989, James S. Riley 1978-79, George G. Scott, and Joseph L. Wileman. Five members have been designated as Honorees of Kena Ceremonials: Ill. Bruce B. Morris, PP, Honorary Member, Spring 1979, Ill. Cecil J. Sills, PP, Spring 1981, Noble Edward L. Berardi, Spring 1992, Noble Clifton R. Melvin, Fall 1994, Ill. James S. Riley, PP, Fall 1999.
Kena 500 has operated the Christmas Tree Lot each year since 1974. Members give of themselves during the holiday season to support this worthy fund-raising effort. Noble Carl E. Schott was elected President for 1983, but he was claimed by the Black Camel on the Tree Lot in 1982, prior to taking office. SAMMA designated the Spring Meeting as the Noble Carl E. Schott Meeting in his honor. Many stories have been swapped and camaradarie enhanced among members around the old pot-bellied stove on the Tree lot.
Charitable Donations. Kena 500 has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Shriners Hospitals and to Kena Temple from funds raised selling Christmas Trees and other fund raising events. All monies received as parade prizes are donated to the Hospitals. During the two years that the Ill. Joe Wileman, PP, was president of KENA 500, (1990-91) more than $10,000 was donated to the Shrine Hospitals. The Unit donated $10,000 to Kena Temple for the new roof project.
Members of Kena 500 have fun with little children at annual Temple activities such as the Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic by giving them rides in their little cars. The Unit has several Christmas Character costumes that members don to provide entertainment at the Breakfast with Santa program each year: Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Chris Moose, and Jingle Bull.
The KENA 500 Man of the Year Award was begun during 1992. Those named are
1992 Noble Ralph I. Bassford
1993 None selected
1994 Noble Donald A. Younker
1995 Noble Delano Del Farmer
1996 Noble William S. "Mike" Simms, Sr.
1997 Noble William K. Ken McCarty
1998 Noble Stanley M. Stan Lowry
1999 Noble Donald F, Ritenour
2000 Noble Marvin K. Mac McAfee
2001 Noble Paul W. Wood
Parade Uniforms and Dress Uniforms were adopted in 1972. The Parade uniform consisted of Monogrammed, dark blue, short sleeve shirt; light blue trousers; black shoes and belt, and Fez. Dress Uniforms for Social Affairs were comprised of light blue trousers; dark blue long sleeve shirts; blue blazer; maroon tie; black shoes and belt, and Fez. A new Parade Uniform was adopted in 1976 which included white jump-suits, and which were worn for the first time in National Cherry Blossom Parade, Washington, DC (didn't stay white for long!). New Dress Uniforms were adopted including blazing orange jackets; white slacks (summer) dark brown slacks (winter); white shirt and dark brown tie. In February 1990 heavier parade jackets were adopted. July/August 1994 orange rain suits added. Optional light-weight parade jackets were adopted 2000 . In 2001, new ties for the dress uniform were adopted.