Behind the Scenes with Sandbar Float Builders

This is a guest blog by the Sandbar's art director & chief mischief maker, Brother Pants. If you need something framed, he's your guy. Visit him at Fast Frame on West 6th Street.

The Sandbar has been entering floats in the St Patty's Day parade for over a decade, but the thing that makes their floats as unique and original as the bar itself is their departure from the rules of traditional parade floats. With the Sandbar, it is less a float as it is a theatrical experience. And that's why I am honored to be part of the team.

It actually reminds me of my high school experiences in the theater department. The float ideas start months in advance (usually over some tasty beverages) and the construction and production is very similar to a stage production. Of course the actual building of the float goes on for a few weeks by a horde of volunteer workers (usually consisting of employees or SB regulars) led by the dedicated Dave Johanning, compiling hundreds of manhours (and beers).

On another front, staff members often teach dance routines, create costumes and build scenery. And amidst the madness, as time is running short, there always seems to be a specific moment when you just know it's going to be a great show (for me last year, it was when I saw the smoke come out of the dragon's nose at 1 a.m. in Dave's shop). Always a team effort.

And when the big day arrives, and the anticipation peaks, and the music rises, and thousands of people line the streets, it's as if the curtain rises on the stage and the show begins. It's worth every minute.

Let the float building begin!

Our annual Sandbar float-building extravaganza has finally begun, a little behind schedule this year.

We have a new space to build our creation this year. Good thing, since we outgrew Dave's yard several years ago. And our new space is indoors, with heat and running water, so we don't freeze to death.

The boys have decided to mark their progress this year not by how big the float structure is, but rather by their beer can structure:

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Check back tomorrow for an inside look at float building from one of our experienced crew members.

The Pretty Pretty Pink Princess Bathroom

This entry is a guest blog by long-time Friday evening bartender and future bride-to-be, Heather.

Many of you who saw our float know it was an amazing castle. Dave truly is a float building genius and each year seems to outdo himself from the year before. What you may not be aware of is how amazing the float was on the inside as well. Decorated on the inside, you say? Ah, it's true…we here at The Sandbar don't do anything halfway.

This year our float had not only a working bathroom, but a pretty pretty pink princess bathroom. In addition to the pink princesses on the pink walls, there was hand sanitizer, hand lotion, a trashcan, a pink shower curtain for privacy, and my absolute favorite: the potted flowers.

Now Dave may have had the idea for the potty (or maybe not- the women at The Sandbar frequently request more access and better facilities), but the ever-resourceful Coleen came up with the decorations. The story I've been told is that Coleen and Michelle worked on the bathroom in front of Dave, all the while discussing castle related decorations and gray paint. He had no idea it was pink until it was too late.

When Dave asked the ladies "isn't that pink?"- meaning the wall paint- Michelle told him it was just the way the sun was hitting it. I like to imagine the look on his face when he first walked into the float bathroom in all its pink princess glory.

A special thanks goes out to Sandbar regular Brandon for providing the potty. Rumor has it he wanted to buy it for tailgating, and offering to loan it to the Sandbar float got bonus points with his wife.

For me, the pink girly bathroom made our castle on wheels quite luxurious and lots of fun!

Sandbar bathroom #5 Sandbar bathroom #6

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Video

After a sad weekend that saw our beloved Kansas Jayhawks losing in the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament, we thought everyone could use some cheer.

Here's a short video clip of our castle float from this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade. One of our knights, "Showtime," was gracious enough to jump off the float at the beginning of the parade and film this for us.

We hope you enjoyed our float this year!

(After creating & uploading this video, I realized that we never uploaded footage of last year's parade float, the Crazy Love Train in Locomotion. When I run out of things to talk about here, rest assured it will be posted. Probably soon. There's also video of our float dancers warming up before the parade, which will be good for some laughs.)

Other Favorite Floats from St. Patrick’s Day

The only downside to being IN the St. Patrick's Day Parade is that we don't get to SEE the parade. Our only chance to see the other entries is while we're lined up  waiting for our turn down Massachusetts Street, or after the parade when we're all parked at the Flamingo Club in North Lawrence.

Here's a few of the floats we managed to see.

The group from Van Go Mobile Arts, a local arts program for teenagers, created a very colorful train. They won first place in the family division with this entry:

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Our neighbors on New Hampshire Street, the Barrel House, participated in their first St. Patrick's Day Parade. The piano bar opened almost a year ago. They re-created their atmosphere onboard a trailer and took third place in the commercial division:

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The group from Berry Plastics has built floats for the last several years, and they're always great. This year, they created a river boat called the Berry Belle and won second place in the commercial division:

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I didn't get a picture of the first place winner in the commercial division- their float moved too fast for me. Pennington & Co. re-created the Lord of the Dance, and it was hilarious. Find a picture of it online if you can.

And the last picture for today: the grand float from Kennedy Glass and crew. They used hundreds of thousands of pomps and reams of chicken wire to recreate Campanile Hill. A leprechaun and a bunch of Jayhawks sledded down the hill into O'Potter's Lake- really. The big sled was actually a moving part and it was very cool:

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Those are the only pictures I have of other floats.

Check out the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade website for more pictures! There's a ton of pictures on their site, but there were so many great entries!