Creativity abounds at Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade
By now, Katelyn Kelly just assumes the Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held for her.
Every March 17 since the one she was born, in 2011, her parents have celebrated the anniversary of her birth by building a float in her honor and entering it in the annual Lawrence parade.
“This is her birthday party every year,” said Katelyn’s mom, Sarah, as she put the finishing touches on the float before Monday’s parade. “She thinks the parade is for her.”
Katelyn’s float was among more than 100 entries in this year’s parade, which drew thousands of green-clad spectators and a cast of Irish-themed characters to downtown Lawrence. The event, celebrating its 27th year, annually raises money for local children’s charities, this year Bikers Against Child Abuse, Baby Jay’s Legacy of Hope and the Camp Bromelsick Foundation.
1st: Berry Plastics
2nd: American Janitorial Supply Co.
3rd: Hoop Mamas
1st: Weathetwax-Feurt family
2nd: Katelyn Kelly’s third birthday
3rd: Rich Johnson family
1st: Clinton Eagles 4-H Club
2nd: Lawrence Community Nursery School
3rd: CLO’s Midnight Farm
Best dressed adult
“Pawsh Wash fairy” Tanya McNeely
Best dressed wee person
Jackson Williams of the Weathetwax-Feurt float
“Airplane — neat!” said Layla Glotzbach, 4, as a plane flew overhead, signifying the start of the parade. “I want to ride on that,” she added, as she sat in a mini-fire truck with her 2-year-old brother, Cyrus, part of Lawrence Fire-Medical’s parade entry.
As they got set to march in full kilt garb, the Blackwood n Skins Irish Pipe Band, of Kansas City, Mo., commented on how much they enjoy marching in the Lawrence parade.
“The atmosphere here you don’t find in Kansas City,” said Robin Woolen, who plays the pipes.
“From where we start to when we get across the bridge, it’s nothing but people,” added fellow bagpiper Gary Mosby.
Ten-year-old Kolton Scott, participating in the parade with 250 of his fellow Lawrence Boys and Girls Club students, noted that his favorite part of the parade is throwing candy.
“I just chuck it out there so they have to run after it,” he said.
The winner of this year’s traveling trophy, the Sandbar, featured a motorized beach party, complete with sand castles, a sandbar and people dancing to tunes like Pharrell’s “Happy.”
“We try to come up with new ideas and step it up every year,” said David Johanning, managing partner at the Sandbar, as he watched kids smile from high atop the sand castle. “That right there is worth everything.”
Another particularly creative float belonged to Mid America Janitorial Supply Co.: a giant Cheshire Cat accompanied by life-action versions of seemingly the entire cast of “Alice in Wonderland” and — in a nod to the business — a golden toilet, which was making its second annual appearance in Mid America’s parade entry.
“This year the Dormouse stole the golden toilet and is using it as a teapot,” explained business owner Devon Polzin.
For Matthew Carver and Molly Rohr, both of Salina, Monday’s parade was an event neither will likely ever forget. Beforehand, the couple were at a Lawrence sweets shop when Rohr reached into a bag for a piece of chocolate — and pulled out an engagement ring, courtesy of Carver. (She said yes.)
Why did Carver choose to pop the question in Lawrence?
“Lawrence is where we had our first real date,” said Rohr, referring to a 2012 Punch Brothers concert at Liberty Hall. “It’s where we go to do fun stuff!”