The Order of Elks is an American fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. On Nov. 15, 1867, a small group of entertainers and actors led by an English comedy singer named Charles Vivian organized a drinking club in New York City. The organization was first called the "Jolly Corks," with the sole purpose of circumventing a New York law that closed saloons on Sundays. In 1868, "The Jolly Corks" was renamed The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
The Order of Elks mission is to inculcate principles of charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity; to recognize a belief in God; to promote the welfare and happiness of its members; to quicken the spirit of American patriotism; to cultivate good fellowship; and to perpetuate itself as a fraternal organization. The organization spends $80 million every year on benevolent, educational and patriotic community-minded programs. The first Elk lodge, located in New York, opened on March 12, 1871. The Elks' national headquarters are located in Chicago at the Elks National Veterans Memorial and Headquarters overlooking Lincoln Park. The organization boasts over 1 million members and 2,100 Elk lodges throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. territories, as of 2015.