Lawrence parades St. Patrick's Day celebration

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

For Ellie Parr, the highlight of St. Patrick's Day wasn't the candy or floats at the annual Lawrence parade.

It was realizing her sister wasn't wearing green.

"The best part is pinching my sister," the 9-year-old Baldwin girl said.

Parr was one of thousands who lined Massachusetts Street on Monday for Lawrence's 16th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, which featured bagpipe music, Irish jigs and plenty of green.

It also featured an "underdog" win for the best commercial float competition. The Lawrence Humane Society took the honor, knocking off the Sandbar, which had won eight straight years.

The Humane Society used a group dressed as canines to show the pet overpopulation problem.

"I can't believe we dethroned the Sandbar," said Director Midge Grinstead, who said she had plans for a giant dog float next year.

The loss didn't faze Sandbar competitors.

"We do it for the fun," said Dave Johanning, the bar's manager. "It's all about St. Patrick's Day and the charities every year."

This year's fund-raisers -- including a charity auction, Shamrock Shuffle and parade entry fees -- are expected to raise more than $20,000 for Boys & Girls Clubs of Lawrence, said Phil Bradley, parade committee chairman. He said the 69 entries made for one of the largest parades.

"This time of the year, everybody's a little Irish, no matter where you come from," Bradley said. "Being Irish isn't so much about ancestry as it is a state of mind."

Bradley attributed Monday's afternoon weather -- about 70 with a light breeze and no rain -- to the "luck of the Irish."

For Gary Mosley, St. Patrick's Day is about kilts and bagpipes. Mosley, a member of the Kansas City Pipe and Drum Corps, said he cherished this holiday every year. He marched with a crew of 18 in the parade.

"You love bagpipes or you hate them, basically," he said. "There are guys here who don't have any Irish or Scottish in them -- they just like the way it sounds. And a lot of the guys just like to wear dresses."

Cory Church, a 7-year-old parade participant, had a goal for St. Patrick's Day: "I want to catch a leprechaun. You'd have to run real fast."

Cory was riding his green-decorated bicycle while towing a green-decorated wagon carrying Skippy, his wire-haired terrier. They had matching green hats.

"I like to wear green," Cory explained.

Scott Iiams is another fan of green. The Topeka resident said he drove to Lawrence every year because he preferred it to the Topeka parade. Iiams was wearing green from head to toe -- and even dyed his goatee so it looked something like a tennis ball.

"It was temporary spray from Walgreen's," he said. "It was hard to get. It was sold out everywhere.

"I probably over-greened a little today. But you can get away with it on Paddy's Day."

Commercial division1st place -- Lawrence Humane Society2nd place -- The Sandbar3rd place -- Cactus JonesHonorable mention -- Dance City-Spirit of KansasFamily division1st place -- Foos family2nd place -- Curtis family3rd place -- Goodell familyHonorable mention -- American LegionNonprofit division1st place -- Kansas City Pipe and Drum Corps2nd place -- WRAP3rd place -- Crown Casting ClubHonorable mention -- Michael GrandstaffBest-Dressed Wee Little Irish Person -- Adam GrayBest-Dressed Adult Irish Person -- June Moon