Desert of Florida

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Desert of Florida History & Gala Day History

The Desert of Florida records indicate that the first temple established by the Imperial Council was Rabia Temple #8 in Jacksonville, Florida in the year 1894.

The Imperial Council also chartered thirteen (13) additional Temples within our Desert. They are: Harram Temple #23 in Tampa, Florida; Ahmed Temple #37 in Tallahassee, Florida; Haggai Temple #55 in Palatka, Florida; Ancient City Temple #63 in St. Augustine, Florida; Osiris Temple #67 in Daytona, Florida; Musad Temple #69 in West Palm Beach, Florida; Kismet Temple #87 in Key West, Florida; Malta Temple #143 in Orlando, Florida; Kazah Temple #149 in Miami, Florida; Murat Temple #180 in Ft. Myers, Florida; Haggai Temple #182 (formely Islam Temple) in Pensacola, Florida; Saba Temple #186 in Pompano Beach, Florida; and Safia Temple #188 in Panama City, Florida.

The Imperial Council deactivated Haggai Temple #55 charter in 1997. They also transferred Osiris Temple #67 charter to Melbourne, Florida and Ancient City Temple #63 to Daytona, Florida.

The Honorable Past Potentate Eric Myers, Harram Temple #23, is the only Noble from the Desert of Florida to be elected to an office of the Imperial Council. Past Potentate James Brimberry has served in the Imperial Appointed position as Regional Director. Other Nobles that were appointed to the position of Imperial Deputy of the Desert are as follows:

  • Past Potentate Raynell Sloan, Harram Temple #23
  • Past Potentate John Stevens, Masud Temple #69
  • Past Potentate Samuel Sweeten, Kazah Temple #149
  • Past Potentate John Dillard, Kazah Temple #149
  • Past Potentate Robert Brown, Rabia Temple #8
  • Past Potentate Earl Sims, Rabia Temple #8
  • Past Potentate Charles F. Gullatt, Malta Temple #143
  • Past Potentate Carl Finerson, Malta Temple #143
  • Past Potentate Walter West, Osiris Temple #67
  • Honorary Past Imperial Potentate Billy D. McLamb,  Haggai Temple #182 (formerly Islam Temple)

  • The Imperial Council has blessed our Desert with other Imperial Appointments that are too many to report at this time.

    There are two Temples that have earned special recognition: Harram Temple #23 for outstanding charity donations and for also chartering the first credit union within the Imperial Domain, and Kazah Temple #149 for partnering with the University of Miami to establish a medical organ transplant program and for outstanding charity donations as well.


    The History of Gala Day

    Gala Day was first conceived and presented to the Imperial Council in 1944. The original idea was not conceived as Gala Day, but as Deputy’s Day and was given the name Gala Day by the Imperial Council.

    Gala Day was the brain child of Daughter Flora Watkins and Noble Claude Watkins. At the time of its inception, Noble Watkins was the Imperial Deputy of the Desert of Indiana. He approached the Imperial Potentate and Imperial Council with the idea of declaring a day to honor the Deputies of the Deserts throughout the Imperial Domain. The idea was first met with many objections in the Council by a very conservative block of officers of the Shrine. The Imperial Potentate, Noble Raymond W. Jackson #61 (1939-1955), “A Man for the Hour,” embraced the thought that the Deputies worked for the Council all year and deserved the tribute. He also reasoned that local Temples could make money for charity.

    Upon giving the idea its approval, the Imperial Council decreed that the event should be known as “Gala Day”, and that the Deputy of the Desert must be in charge of all arrangements and business pertaining to the events. The Council ruled that each Temple in the Desert would be allowed the opportunity to serve as hosts, with the initial event to be held in 1945.

    Gala Day as we know it today is a joint celebration between the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and the Daughters. This is why we celebrate “Gala Day.”