Demonstrators not lovin' it that McDonald's closed for remodeling

Standing on the roadside dressed as a hamburger, Steve Balbone insisted he and his friends weren't on drugs.

"Everybody's clean," he said.

Still, there they were at lunchtime Tuesday in front of the McDonald's at 1309 W. Sixth St., staging a mock protest aimed at getting the restaurant to reopen as it undergoes renovation. For this group of young artists and musicians - one shirtless, one wearing a furry helmet with antlers - it was as much an act of absurd street theater as it was a serious demonstration.

"I've had this in my head for almost a week to try to do this, and today the reality became a reality," said Balbone, 25, who was wearing a Big Mac costume and a cloth mask with a fuzzy white beard attached. "There's no Happy Meal, so how can you stay at all positive?"

As some of their friends shot video footage, Balbone and five others pumped their fists and gave thumbs-up signals to passing motorists. They shouted, "We're McStarving!" and held signs that read "Montana Mike Stay'd Open," and "Stay Open Now!"

"They could have at least kept the drive-through open," said Patrick Hangauer, 21, who picketed with his brother, Brendan.

Balbone said the group consisted of "starving artists" and musicians from six local bands.


From left: Steve Balbone, The Hanz Bronze, Kyle Batten, Brendan Hangauer, Curtis McCoy and Justin Roelofs - who call themselves "starving artists" - dressed up for a mock demonstration at the McDonald's at 1309 W. Sixth St. The group was out Tuesday morning protesting the restaurant's closing for remodeling.

"We're not usually so starving," he said.

He said he hoped the video footage eventually would be edited and shown publicly. When Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" opened last year, the group staged a musical procession on opening night at Southwind 12 Theaters, 3433 Iowa, then showed the footage at the Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St.

Dick Hamel, 56, who was doing stone work on the McDonald's, took the protest lightly.

"It just looks all tongue-in-cheek," he said. "It doesn't offend me from the standpoint of the silliness of it, but sometimes when I see people with idle time like that, it's offensive."

Patrick Manning, spokesman for McDonald's of Lawrence, said the store's owners were pleased to hear of the protest - and to learn that it wasn't an animal-rights group.

He said the store closed May 23 and would be under renovation until late June, despite the cries to reopen.

The protesters also called for "tenure" for the McRib sandwich, which Balbone says keeps being reintroduced, then pulled from the menu.

"McRib is really a wintertime sandwich," Manning said. "It'll be back again in November.


jeromefaulkley 17 years, 6 months ago

nice work, douchebags! tell roelofs to eat a couple of big macs, asap. thanks for your time?

jeromefaulkley 17 years, 6 months ago

actually, tenure for the mcrib would be icing on the cake. mcribs come from
the grimace. grimii are actually found in the faulkland islands, and area 51, aliens! damn.

David Ryan 17 years, 6 months ago

Hurrah for the Lawrencians involved and for Eric Weslander's story.

Reading the story was a wonderful way to start the day -- for a moment it seemed the J-W was channeling the Onion, the only difference being that Eric's story, and the event itself, were real.

Nice work all around. Thanks for the smiles inspired.

Best quote: "There's no Happy Meal, so how can you stay at all positive?"

How indeed?

jeromefaulkley 17 years, 6 months ago

This article actually is great. it looks like we actually have a lil' bit of the onion in the journal world. very light hearted.

tribalzendancer 17 years, 6 months ago

wow, although it surprised me to read this group was actually seriously hoping ol' donalds would reopen soon, unless their pleas were drenched in indistinguishable irony.

actually this article makes me sad the more i think about it. I never thought there would come a day when protester's would stand up for their rights to eat 50% fat burgers, watch pop-corn fluff infotainment on fox news, drink their $5 latte's from Starbucks, or other related possible injustices.

We seriously need a new american dream people. Ours is turning to shit.


tribalzendancer 17 years, 6 months ago

the article was funny though, in a twisted kind of way.

Priest Fontaine 17 years, 6 months ago

hey tribalzendancer - are you for real? I feel sorry for you. Snap out of it dude!! Did you see the photo? That is the American dream.

DoktorNo 17 years, 6 months ago

And your drug free too? Thats too bad. You have WAY too much time on your hands. You should chase tornadoes or something constructive like that. Maybe help rebuild barns and counsel farm animals that are traumatized by natures destructive forces..... Actually you twits have made news of the day, and yes its weird. Went to to find out THE STORY...actually took me awhile to figure out is LAWRENCE KANSAS as the site never made that clear but then again I guess you wern't expecting someone from Rockford, Michigan to enter your KU world. up your efforts, from now on and for at least the next 10 minutes...I'll stop in and check what Lawrence is actually doing. Doc in Rockford...thats where your HushPuppies shoes come from..or did anyway..till they outsourced to Malasia or something like that.

tribalzendancer 17 years, 6 months ago

lol, what? Okay, thats cool. and yes, in a light-hearted- the article was funny but if these people were serious its still sad- serious kind of way, I'm 'for real'.

"Did you see the photo? That is the American dream." - I'm assuming your joking as well. I cant imagine people that would say that seriously. For real!

and who was the hipsters comment to? Just curious.

meowllory 17 years, 6 months ago

I seriously wish I could have been there with those boys. The fun of being young in the summer. I laughed when it was planned and laughed even more when I opened the paper. Good job fellas.

Emily Hadley 16 years, 11 months ago

Indeed, who are the hipsters? And why are they so furry?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.