Sandbar goes to Disney World to check out 'hurricane'

A Night on the Town

A trip to Disney World sparked the idea for The Hurricane Show, an event that takes place nightly at The Sandbar, 17 E. Eighth St.

Sandbar owner Peach Madl, her brother Pat Conroy and Sandbar manager David Johanning conceived the idea for The Hurricane Show in August when Conroy returned to Lawrence after a family vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

"(Conroy) was talking about the 3-D shows and how they incorporate stuff into the different elements of the shows," said Johanning, who has managed the bar for almost 10 years. "We started thinking about what we could do like that here in Lawrence."

Scott McDaniel, who has worked as a bartender at The Sandbar for a year, said the idea of a hurricane was sparked by a large fan the employees had previously nicknamed The Hurricane.

"(The fan) kind of started the wheels turning and got the ball rolling," he said. "We wanted something that would be wild but fun."

Johanning said a hurricane fit the theme the bar had already established.

"Every bar has its own identity," he said. "Not every bar could do a hurricane like us, because ours is a tropical-type bar."

Johanning, Madl and members of their families began to do research about how they could create a hurricane simulation inside the bar. Johanning said they even traveled to Orlando to visit Disney World and see how some of the attractions are produced there.

Johanning said he and Madl hired someone to help them with their project, but he said they ended up creating most of the effects themselves.

The Hurricane Show premiered Feb. 1 and takes place at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. nightly. The show has a news broadcast, a girl in a mermaid costume reading a poem, a special hurricane song and dance, flashing lights, wind, bubbles, foam and fog.

McDaniel said The Hurricane Show is something everyone should view at least once.

Madl said she wanted to make The Sandbar a destination place, so people would call their friends and say, "If you're going to Lawrence, you've gotta see this."

Johanning said the show is fun to attend as part of a special event.

"We get a lot of bachelorette parties and birthday parties," he said. "It is fun for people to make their friend get up in the mermaid costume so they can take pictures."

The show has attracted attention to the bar, McDaniel said.

"I'd say it's been effective in so far as getting people to talk about The Sandbar and creating a fun atmosphere," he said.

Johanning said The Hurricane Show was not created solely to bring in customers.

"It's not that we needed anything new for business," he said. "We're small enough that we have our own clientele. This is just something that was fun for us to do."

Bar employees agree with Johanning that The Hurricane Show brings an element of entertainment to the bar.

"I never get sick of it," said Bob Little, who has worked at The Sandbar for three years. "I think it's fun."

� Kristin Callaway is a student at Baker University in Baldwin.

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