Lawrence’s horse-drawn Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade is fantastic, except scurrying for candy in the streets can get a little messy. (Actually, don’t bother. That’s not candy, city slickers.) The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a great tribute to the Irish and out-of-control grocery carts. And the Earth Day Parade is a reminder of what great fun we’ll have when the entire world starts riding bicycles and all yoga is free.
But despite Lawrence’s love of parades, there is one type the community hasn’t had for years: a traditional Veterans Day parade. A group of local residents plans to change that this November.
A Veterans Day parade through downtown Lawrence is set for 1 p.m. on Nov. 11, which happens to be a Saturday this year. The route will go down Massachusetts Street roughly from Seventh Street to South Park.
That’s your cue to line the streets and put your patriotism on full display. I thought I should explain because it has been a long time since Lawrence has had a Veterans Day parade. Organizers believe the last official one was in 1968.
The organizing group — which is co-chaired by American Legion member Don Weis and Lawrence Police Department employee Kim Murphree — already has the necessary parade permit from the city. Now, they’re just looking for lots and lots of veterans.
Mike Kelly, a retired Air Force colonel and member of the organizing committee, said the group is looking for anyone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, regardless of whether they served during a time of war.
Kelly, though, said he wants to make sure Vietnam veterans particularly feel welcomed. He said that the idea for the parade stemmed, in part, from hearing from people who knew Vietnam veterans who still struggle with the reception they received upon returning from the war.
“I think there are a number of people who now just say it has been too long,” Kelly said. “We ought to say thank you, especially to the folks who haven’t gotten a thank you. We think there are some people out there who didn’t get a thank you.”
Any veteran who wants to participate in the parade can get in touch with Murphree at firstname.lastname@example.org or can leave a message on the group’s Facebook page, which can be found at The Lawrence Veterans Day Parade.
Local car dealers are providing several vehicles for veterans to ride in, several farmers are providing large flatbed trailers for veterans, and walking the parade route also is an option, Kelly said. He said the committee will accommodate whatever needs a veteran may have.
In addition to the veterans, Kelly said organizers hope to have a military band, honor guards from the sheriff’s office, police department, fire department and other organizations, and some military vehicles from the Army Reserve or another branch.
“It will be like a Humvee or something,” Kelly said. “No M-1 tanks on Mass. That wouldn’t be good for the pavement.” (It did give me a wonderful idea, though: a candy cannon.)
Kelly said people who would like to honor a deceased veteran can provide information to the committee via the Facebook page or email address. He said the tentative plan is for posters to be made with those names.
People who are interested in volunteering also can reach out via those same means. He said people would be needed to help clean up afterward and to help near the viewing stand, where an emcee will be announcing the names of veterans.
“But the main purpose of all this is just to say thank you,” Kelly said.
Marking your calendars to do that may be the most important role you can play.
Lawrence’s Orchards Golf Course opens new FootGolf facility; update on downtown’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade
Dear homeowners along Bob Billings Parkway,
Don't be alarmed if you find me in your living room with a soccer ball, argyle socks, and a pair of 1980s-style soccer shorts that cause my children to disown me. Chances are, I'm just looking for my wayward ball with a new type of golf played at Lawrence's Orchards Golf Course.
The game of FootGolf is coming to Lawrence. The owners of the Orchards Golf Course, 3000 Bob Billings Parkway, have built a FootGolf course to go along with their traditional, nine-hole executive golf course.
Based on the fellows I play golf with, I thought FootGolf had arrived years ago because the foot wedge is clearly the best shot my buddy has. But that's not how the real sport of FootGolf is played. Instead, the golf ball is replaced by a soccer ball, and there are no clubs involved. You simply use your feet to advance the ball, and you count strokes like you would with golf. (I take that back: I think the FootGolf people want you to actually count every stroke.)
The course is basically laid out alongside the traditional golf course. The cup, so to speak, is a 21-inch diameter by 14-inch hole in the ground. No, it is not on the actual putting green of the golf course. In fact, foot golfers are given a one-shot penalty if they put a ball on the green.
The sport gives players an experience that involves a little bit of golf and a little bit of soccer.
"I've noticed that when you kick a ball, it is just kind of natural that you jog after it," said Richard McGhee, who owns the course with his wife, Chris. "It is a pretty good aerobic exercise."
The Orchards Course ranges from a par five that is 270 yards to a par three that is 97 yards. The course is designed so that both traditional golfers and foot golfers can play at the same time. Just like in regular golf, though, you'll need to wait your turn, or else have a really fast golf cart to outrun the big guy that you just beaned in the back.
The game is played with a regulation soccer ball. You can bring your own, or Orchards will rent you one for $3. (Green fees are $11 for 18 holes.)
"I think it is a little tougher to lose your ball in FootGolf," McGhee told me.
(I don't know who he thinks he's talking to. I'm excellent at finding golf balls, including that one that landed in that fellow's BBQ grill. If you think chipping out of sand is tough . . . And that reminds me, I still owe him a filet mignon.)
The game of FootGolf has become popular on the coasts, and also overseas. Kansas City has one golf course that has a FootGolf course, and so does Manhattan, McGhee said. The sport has a governing body, which has sanctioned the Lawrence course. (Sanctioned is a good thing in this case, unlike some other sanctions I have received from several neighborhood associations abutting golf courses.)
McGhee said he expects the game to become popular in the Midwest as well. Golf courses are looking for ways to generate new revenue and expose new people to their properties. McGhee thinks the game will be particularly popular in a town like Lawrence.
"One of the things we have going for us here is that lots of people are looking for ways to get out and exercise," McGhee said. "We think there are people looking for ways to exercise besides just walking down the sidewalk."
The Orchards, which is being renamed Orchards Golf and FootGolf, is open for FootGolf during all regular business hours, except on Tuesday and Friday mornings, when the course will be reserved for a pair of traditional golf leagues.
In other news and notes from around town:
• An update on a major downtown event: As we reported last month, the Old-Fashioned Christmas parade in downtown Lawrence lost its major sponsor. Parade organizers tell me interest has been strong from potential sponsors since we spread the word in mid-July. A deal hasn't yet been struck, but parade president Marty Kennedy said he is optimistic that a deal will be reached soon.
But here is the major point: Regardless of the timing of any future deal, this year's parade will take place. We reported in July that the 2014 wasn't in jeopardy, but some folks must have overlooked that part of the article because Kennedy said the organization has heard from several people who were under the impression that this year's event would possibly be cancelled.
Kennedy said the organization has the resources it needs to put the parade on, which is slated for Dec. 6.
"The parade is still a go," he said.
• Also, if you will allow me, a brief bit of recognition for another important Lawrence event. As I've been telling you for the last couple of weeks, the Douglas County Fair has been a big part of my family's schedule recently, and it wrapped up Saturday night with the annual livestock auction. The event isn't always top-of-mind when it comes to great Lawrence traditions that help the community, but indeed it does. It is not an exaggeration to say that scores of local businesses and other bidders literally gave tens of thousands of dollars directly to Douglas County youth on Saturday night. Bidding on animals — goats, sheep, swine and cattle — lasted for nearly four hours, and I don't remember any animal going for less than $400 and some champion animals went for around $4,000. More than just the youth-owners of the animals also benefited. Dale Willey Automotive, for example, purchased several animals and donated the meat to Just Food, the local food bank. There were other organizations that did the same, but I didn't get their names. If you have them, feel free to list them below. My kids sold two hogs, including one that went to Just Food. They and the other youth thank all involved.
Expect new twist for parking situation at Saturday’s Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade; new truck dealership open on 23rd Street
If you are looking for a parking space in downtown Lawrence on Saturday, I hope it is for a horse.
The annual Downtown Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas parade is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, and as you know, it is an all horse-drawn parade. (No, kids, that's not candy in the streets.)
In fact, keeping the parade crowd out of the street is a big part of having a safe parade, and organizers are taking a new step this year. For the first time, barricades will be erected along the sides of Massachusetts Street. Parade organizers are spreading the word that the barricades will have an impact on people coming downtown to park.
Marty Kennedy, one of the organizers of the parade, said barricades would start going up at 8 a.m. Saturday. They'll be placed behind cars that already have parked along Massachusetts Street. So, if you park in downtown Lawrence on Saturday, you'll need to get there before 8 a.m. and you'll need to be prepared to remain parked until past 11 a.m.
Kennedy said the decision to use barricades this year was based on the safety of parade watchers and the horses.
"A lot of our horses are used to being in corrals," Kennedy said. "The barricades will give them the idea that they're supposed to go nice and straight down the street."
Kennedy said he doesn't think the barricade situation is going to cause any problems for people wanting to get a parking spot along the parade route. He said the parade has become so popular that people already know they have to come early in the morning to get a spot along Massachusetts Street.
"In the past, there really haven't been many parking spots to be had after 6 a.m.," Kennedy said.
The barricades will be removed as the street sweepers travel down the parade route. Kennedy estimated people would be able to leave their parking spots about 15 minutes after the parade had ended.
In other news and notes from around town:
• If you are going to a horse parade, it just seems like you ought to go in a one-ton pickup truck with a good tool box to sit upon and a jug of grandfather's special sipping cider to keep you warm.
I'm still working on securing the sipping cider, but there is news on the big truck front. The longtime Lawrence business Kaw Valley Industrial, 1105 E. 23rd St., has expanded into truck sales.
The new business is running under the name of Kaw Valley Truck Sales. Ryan Lauber, a son of the owners of Kaw Valley Industrial, is running the new venture. Lauber said the business is trying to focus on larger used trucks — mainly three-quarter ton and one-ton trucks — that can be more difficult to find on traditional car lots. The business also is offering service work on diesel engines and truck and four-wheel drive accessories. The business also hopes to be a player in the agricultural truck market, with bale haulers and other farm trucks.
The business, which carries only used vehicles, usually has an inventory of around 15 to 20 trucks, Lauber said.
Lauber said the new focus seems to fit well with Kaw Valley Industrial's business, which includes ATVs, chainsaws, mowing equipment and other such items.
"We're kind of a one-stop shop now," Lauber said. "You can come in and buy a one-ton truck and a chainsaw."
As they say at the horse parade, "Whoa, there." That sounds like a lot of work. How about we sip some more cider first?
Well, I guess I won't bring my big fuzzy drum major hat downtown after all.
I had heard through the grapevine and now have confirmed that Kansas University has decided to cancel its traditional Band Day parade through downtown Lawrence. It was scheduled for Sept. 21.
Leslie O'Neil, office manager for the KU Band office, confirmed that the parade has been cancelled due to logistical problems created by KU's 11 a.m. kickoff for its game against Louisiana Tech. O'Neil stressed the halftime performance of area bands is still scheduled to continue.
But I'm sure some people will be bummed that the parade won't take place. In past years, it has seemed to draw a large crowd to downtown. But O'Neil said the early kickoff time made it difficult for the parade to happen. That's because bands need to arrive at the stadium before the parade to practice their halftime routines. NCAA regulations require that the field be available to the football teams several hours before kickoff time. So, an 11 a.m. kickoff makes it tough for bands to have enough time to practice the routine and assemble for a pre-game parade.
I believe the parade has been cancelled at least once before because of a kickoff time conflict, but I don't remember what year it was.
I just remember my hat got a lot of funny looks that year.