Mark’s on the Move: Building a St. Patrick’s Day float

On the Move

“Mark’s on the Move” is a feature segment as 6News anchor/reporter Mark Boyle searches for the often untold and overlooked stories in our community. This is a great chance for you the viewer to weigh in on and add to the stories that we are unable to cover through our daily news coverage.

Mark is looking for your participation, comments and suggestions. “Mark’s on the Move” will appear Sundays throughout the spring online at, during the Sunday 10 p.m. broadcast on 6News and in the Sunday edition of the Lawrence Journal World.

Downtown Lawrence will be covered in green Tuesday.  Everyone becomes Irish for a day, and even more show up to watch one of the city’s most anticipated parades.

Think it’s tough work parading in Lawrence? Tough parking, big crowds, sometimes unbearable weather, such as the pouring rain last year, all to partake in one of our many annual traditions?

We found out this past week that the real work originates from the stars of the show: the float builders.

Perpetual favorite The Sandbar has been in the planning stages of their elaborately designed float for months now.  Design and choreography aside, organizers have spent weeks on the mere construction of their 20-plus foot float, which this year boasts a large train with the theme “Locomotion.”

“It’s all about the fun,” says float organizer David Johanning.  “We don’t think about winning; we just want to have fun. And if we do win, that just adds to the fun.”

The float is known for its sheer physical size and the myriad of employees riding along dancing to arguably the most elaborate dance moves around.  All well worth it.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Coleen Martin, now working on her eighth Sandbar float.  “And of course the fun,” she adds.

When the parade starts and you are sitting downtown dressed head-to-toe in your best green attire, think about the effort the float builders have put into their product for this great tradition and think about the kids that will benefit from the festivities as well.

The 2009 Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade will benefit Lawrence Parents as Teachers, New York Elementary Boys and Girls Club, GaDuGi and the Lawrence High School Positive Incentive Program.