According to a 1938 article in The Evening Star describing the first Night of Thrills on June 15, 1938, “…the program includes a baseball game at 5 o’clock, a band concert at 7:30 o’clock and a pageant of all the uniformed bodies of Masonry at 8 o’clock, including the presentation of the queen of the pageant; a circus at 8:45 o’clock, including ten acts of professional clowning, acrobatics, juggling, trained animals, and aerial stars with an unusual pyrotechnic display of fireworks to top off the evening.”
Griffith Stadium, which stood on the site where the Howard University Hospital is now located, was the venue for this extravaganza. The stadium was owned, as were the Washington Senators Baseball Club, by Brother Clark Calvin Griffith of Harmony Lodge No. 17, who graciously donated the use of the stadium and facilities for the event.
Brother Griffith was an old-time baseball man, who had been a player, manager, and owner from 1891 until his death in 1955, and his contribution of the physical resources where the Night of Thrills was held, was significant to its success.
During the twenty-five years of the Night of Thrills, it averaged a net annual donation to the Masonic and Eastern Star Home of $22.4K. The lowest year was 1939 with $11.3K, and the highest 1953, with $40.4K. (Adjusted for inflation, that translates to about $204, 500.00 in 1939 and $381,000.00 in 1953!)
After the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961, Griffith Stadium was essentially closed, and the work required to make it suitable to continue holding the Night of Thrills there was extremely problematic. That issue, coupled with the diminishing attendance at the event, struck the death knell for the evening of fun that had entertained the District’s Masonic family, and supported the Masonic and Eastern Star Home, for a quarter of a century.