Sandy Gedminas was expecting chaos Saturday. Only a handful of people sat in her Oskaloosa bar early in the afternoon, but the quiet was soon broken by the roar of motorcycles and the chatter of about 100 riders who spent the day crisscrossing the region raising money for the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The Luck of the Irish Poker Run was the final fundraiser before Monday's parade, which benefits the Social Service League and the County Fair Swim Club.
"They're a great group of people," said Gedminas, the owner of Sandy's Bar & Grill, one of six bars included in the motorcycle ride. "Their aim is not to get here to get drunk. They're here to get around the community."
The riders left Lawrence's Slow Ride Roadhouse, 1350 N. Third St., and headed toward Helen's Hilltop in Tonganoxie. After a stop at Sandy's, they rode to the Kick Start Saloon in Topeka and to Perry's Pub in Perry, finishing at Jet Lag Lounge, 610 Fla.
Participants in Saturday's ride also played a hand of poker to raise money for the charities. For $20, riders were dealt one card at each bar, ending up with a full hand by the time they reached Jet Lag. The winner received part of a 50-50 pot: Half of it was donated to the charities, while the winner took home the other half, though organizers hoped the money would be donated to the cause.
"Bikers always come together for charity," said David Rinke, of Lawrence, one of the ride's organizers. "That's just what we do. It's a cause to help people."
But it was also an opportunity for riders to see old friends - and to show off their bikes.
"Everybody's showing off their new paint and their new chrome," said Lawrence resident Bart Downs, who also helped organize the event.
Event organizers said they expected Saturday's ride to raise about $3,000 for the parade's charities. St. Patrick's Day Parade committee member Gene Shaughnessy said the committee would not know how much money was raised until after an April 1 meeting.
"We're helping to make sure they're surprised with what we have," Shaughnessy said. "Until that point comes (on April 1), we're not sure yet. But I'm sure they'll be happy."
The parade will begin at 1 p.m. Monday at South Park, continuing down Massachusetts Street and across the Kansas River. The route continues right on Locust Street and ends at the Flamingo Club, 501 N. Ninth St. It is being broadcast on Sunflower Broadband Channel 6.
Committee member Deb Drummet said plans are being formed in the event of inclement weather.
"We'll have a plan in case of thunderstorms," she said. "If it's rainy, we'll do it. The only that that will stop us is a lightning storm or a tornado."
She said updates will be available on the St. Patrick's Day Parade Web site, www.lawrencestpatricksdayparade.com.