Mother Nature rains on parade

Troopers turn out for soggy St. Pat's

From left: St. Patrick's Day Parade participant Phil Ostronic hands out balloons Monday near Eighth and Massachusetts streets; Tom E. Frenchman II, a Delaware Indian, dresses as a traditional Native American clown; Mr. Bean, a boston terrier, trots along Massachusetts Street; Adrienne Pease, 12, Molly McCord, 11, and Adriana Gramly, 12, huddle under one umbrella while watching the parade.

There were no rainbows, but that did not stop Lawrence residents from searching for a pot o’ gold Monday.

Merry-makers young and old faced steady rains as they gathered downtown for the 21st annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The parade started at South Park and traveled north along Massachusetts Street over the Kansas River, ending at the Flamingo Club in North Lawrence.

As they watched, children splashed in puddles along the street. Families huddled beneath tarps and makeshift tents. Some sat in their vehicles with windshield wipers going.

“Despite the rain, people showed up,” said Colleen Callahan, the 2008 St. Patrick’s Day queen. “I can’t believe the community that camped out with their tents, umbrellas, kids, slickers. It was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful for their support.”

Monday’s temperature remained steady at 45 degrees. By 4 p.m., 1.2 inches of rain had fallen, 6News Chief meteorologist Jennifer Schack said.

The crowds were down from last year, but there were several factors at play, Callahan said. Last year, the event was on a Saturday; this year, it fell on a weekday during Kansas University’s spring break. Last year’s weather was pleasant; the sky let loose on Monday.

“Every single person I saw along the sidewalk I was thrilled to see,” said Jean Ann Pike, director of the Social Service League, one of the organizations benefiting from the parade. “I thought we had a wonderful turnout.”

The rains did affect those in the parade.

Beth Carl, who was on The Sandbar’s float, said conditions were slippery when the float turned corners.

“On the float, the wood was wet,” she said. “So we were sliding around a little bit.”

Tom E. Frenchman II, a parade participant who dressed in his traditional American Indian dance costume and decorated his van for the parade, said the weather prevented him from decking out for the holiday like he had hoped. But, as he stood at the end of the route, shaking off the water, Frenchman said the event wasn’t a wash.

“I saw a lot of happy people,” he said. “That’s what counts.”

And the winners are…

Grand Champion – The O’Hawkanator (Ace Bail Bonds, Combs Custom Cycle, Kennedy Glass and Slowride Roadhouse)

Honorable Mentions – The Sandbar, Berry Plastics

1st Place Commercial – Pennington & Company

2nd Place Commercial – Lawrence Humane Society

3rd Place Commercial – Pawsh Wash

Honorable Mentions – Christal Canine

1st Place Family – Jayhawk Model Masters R/C Club

2nd Place Family – Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence

3rd Place Family – Professional Firefighters Local 1596

Honorable Mentions – Lawrence Kiwanis Club

Best Dressed Irish Adult – The O’Hawkanator’s Marty Kennedy

Best Dressed Irish Wee Folk – Crown Casting Club’s Little Leprechaun in the front seat