Michael McMillan explains the process of taking identification information for children at the Mason's booth at the Colorado State Fair.
Masons offer free child ID service at Fair.
The simple system gives parents information to be used in case of abduction.
By JOHN NORTON THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Keeping an eye on the kids is one of the biggest challenges parents face at the Colorado State Fair, but a well-known fraternal organization knows that challenge extends well beyond the Midway and Main Street.
The Grand Lodge of Colorado Masons for the first time has set up a Child ID booth in the Americraft Hall, formerly known as the Ag Palace. Puebloan Michael McMillan, Junior Grand Steward of the Colorado Grand Lodge, said Monday afternoon that parents of 14,000 children had been provided identification information over just the first three days of the Fair.
"When you go to the (Colorado Bureau of Investigation Web) site and look at child abductions, it's shocking," he said.
The Masons' ID system is a simple one and unlike many other similar services. it's free.
Children are photographed and two fingerprints are taken. Those images are then printed on a template that's given to the parents who fill out information that includes age, height, weight, doctors' and dentists' names and any characteristics like scars and birthmarks.
McMillan said that the photos and fingerprints are not stored and there is no record of ID process kept by his organization.
"Then we go to the unpleasant part," he said. "We ask them to take a usable DNA sample. They can pluck some hair - it has to have the follicle - or take a cheek swab. We show them how to handle that and take care of it."
Parents are then handed an envelope with the ID information and told to keep it and the DNA sample in a place "you can find when you can't think. Because if your child is missing, you may not be thinking very well." They can then give the ID information to police.
The Masons have been providing their service for five years and while they haven't heard from any parents of lost children who've had to use it, McMillan said that police appreciate the service.
He recommends that the IDs be updated yearly, something parents can do by contacting their local Masonic Lodge.