We Are The Champions

Which is ironic, as that is a line from a famous Queen song, and we danced to another song by Queen on our award-winning float this year. Our rockin' medieval castle featured a medley of "We Will Rock You," "Dancing Queen," and "Jump Around." And of course, some favorite Sandbar dancing tunes.

Here it is:

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(photo courtesy of David Bunker, father of Friday bartender Heather)

Last summer, while a group of random Sandbar staff and friends were playing volleyball in Dave's newly installed above-ground pool, Caroline suddenly said "We should build a castle float!" Yes, this is how far in advance we think about St. Patrick's Day. None of us could believe we'd never thought of a castle before, and we immediately came up with "Dancing Queen" as the theme song.

20100317_st pats_0053 We got a late start building the float this year due to the uncooperative weather, but our construction crew rallied and took days off work and busted their butts to get this thing built. And it might be our biggest, most elaborate structure yet.

The dragon on the front was created by Art Director Brother Pants. Of course it didn't just sit there with its head poking out of the turrets- this creature moved and grooved to the music. Neighbor boy Pierce operated the dragon with a complex bicycle handle set-up, and we even rigged smoke to blow out its nose.

The parade took some detours in North Lawrence this year because of the construction near Johnny's. Of course our float was tall- and in the picture above, we hadn't yet attached the flags in the middle of each turret. They were easily unscrewed once we hit North Lawrence so we could avoid low hanging branches and power lines. The red rectangular boxes that sat on the turrets also had to come down after the parade so we could clear the bridge by Johnny's when we returned downtown.

20100317_st pats_0087We're very excited and honored that the Parade judges chose our float to win the Grand Prize  traveling trophy. Kudos go to our favorite friendly float rivals, the crew from Kennedy Glass/Combs/Slow Ride Roadhouse for their awesome Jayhawk & leprechaun sliding down Campanile Hill. They even invited us over for burgers and beer on Tuesday night so we could check out each others' floats and meet the crews.

Also, our neighbors to the north on New Hampshire Street, the Barrel House, won third place in the commercial division. This is the first year they've entered, since they just opened their doors last April, and we hope they continue to participate in the parade with us.

If you have pictures to share, please email them to us (sandbar{at}thesandbar{dot}com) or upload them to our Facebook fan page or Flickr group

Also, check out the great article in the Lawrence Journal-World about the parade- accompanied by a fantastic photo of our float. 

Here's one last photo of our float in action, pulled from Twitter and courtesy of @rikkikite.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Us Tomorrow!

Our favorite day of the year is almost here!

The annual Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade starts tomorrow (that's March 17, if you didn't know) at 1 p.m. The action begins at South Park and heads north through downtown Lawrence, over the bridge, and through the construction in North Lawrence to end up at the Flamingo Club.

It's a long day for us. We get started early in the morning with last minute float preparations, dancing, and pizza for breakfast. By the time the parade's over, we're all worn out. Some of us go home, some party for awhile, and some of us keep going into the wee hours of the night. A few unfortunate folks- usually Dave- end up working behind the bar.

Here's a few parade and St. Patrick's Day related tips and ideas for you:

  1. Get downtown early. Don't drive downtown if you don't have to. Bike, walk, or scooter if you can. The area is packed with people and cars.
  2. If you're on Twitter, be sure to use the #lawstpats hashtag when you're tweeting about the parade. We're giving away some t-shirts, and the Bull 92.9 radio station is giving away some stuff too, including a $25 gift certification to Salty Iguana. Prizes awarded to random tweeters who use the hashtag.
  3. If you're drinking, get a sober driver. Lawrence police are conducting a saturation patrol Wednesday night. (Actually, get a sober driver anytime you're drinking, not just because there's a saturation patrol.) Sandbar staff is happy to call a cab, call a friend, or as a last resort someone would probably even drive you home- it's been done before.
  4. Looking for St. Patrick's Day themed drinks? Check these out from Fine Living Food & Drink. We don't have the ingredients to make most of them, but you can make them at home. Although, the Frozen Irish Banana sounds a little like the Dirty Banana…
  5. Try cooking with Guinness. Our IT professional, Frank, will appreciate these recipes, courtesy of the Beeriety blog. If you like Guinness, you'll probably enjoy adding it to your food.
  6. Use Smartphone apps to enhance your drinking experience. If you're using Android, Blackberry, Palm, or iPhone, there's an app for you courtesy of PC World. You can find a pub, play beer pong, or cure a hangover.

Our favorite friendly float rivals, the gang from Kennedy Glass, invited our crew over tonight for burgers, beers, and float viewings. After that, we've got some details to finish up. We'll see you tomorrow in downtown Lawrence!

Flashback: St. Patrick’s Day 1998

Here's another golden oldie for you. It's amazing to see how far our floats have come in the last decade!

Back in 1998, we built a St. Patrick's Day float that replicated a Jimmy Buffett concert. Well, a Buffett concert in his early days, before he had much of a band or much of a crowd.

It was a chilly, rainy day on St. Patrick's day. We had a group of girls (and Garreth, long time bartender/manager) huddled in the back of the truck dancing to the music. The trailer we used was short by today's standards. We built a stage for "Jimmy" complete with tidal waves and backup dancers and palm trees.

Float 1998 

We were shocked when Tyler, a bartender at the time and future Harvard law school graduate, agreed to be Jimmy Buffett. He was kind of a shy guy, but he lip-synced his way through the parade like a superstar.

We had some band members with actual instruments and hula girls dancing along with the music.

Doesn't the float look tiny?!?

This was also the first year we had a dog on board. We've had animals as part of the float before, but usually it's a camel or zebra or horse that walks in front of or behind the float. But this year, I'd adopted a puppy from Peach & Ted's dog's latest litter, and she was barely six weeks old. I didn't have a kennel for her yet, so she came along for the ride.

Maggie didn't like the puppy carrier, so we turned her loose in back of the truck. She promptly crawled into someone's duffel bag and curled up inside a sweatshirt and slept the entire parade route.

Does anyone remember this float, or any of our other older ones?

What Really Happens While Building a Float

Ever wonder what it's like to build a giant St. Patrick's Day float? Imagine piles of lumber…a garage full of power tools…gallons and gallons of paint…and boys goofing around almost as much as they work.

Here's a look behind the scenes at float prep the other day.

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Somehow, in between the horsing around, they still manage to put together a pretty great float.

Float Building has Begun!

We're very excited to announce that construction of our 2010 St. Patrick's Day Parade float has officially begun! It actually started last weekend, when the longer-than-usual trailer was delivered to our rented garage space, and some of the usual suspects hauled out their power tools and lumber.

This is at least our 14th or 15th year in a row to have a float in the annual parade. Our float, like the parade itself and the crowd that watches it, has grown bigger and better every year. Except maybe for 2008, the year of the Soggy Sandbarn– the torrential downpour that day kept lots of people away from the parade and made our dancers cranky.

Every float is our favorite one at that particular time, but the 2007 Showboat stands out as perhaps our largest undertaking ever (two levels of people!), and the 2003 Love Shack was a crowd favorite that featured a palm tree falling off the float and nearly crashing into the judge's table. Fortunately, no small children or animals were injured.

We're officially behind schedule since Mother Nature has been particularly uncooperative this year. But as long as it's sunny and somewhat warm on the big day, we're not complaining.

The Parade is held on Wednesday, March 17, at 1 p.m. It begins at South Park and travels north on Massachusetts Street and across the bridge, and then from there it's anyone's guess. The Flamingo Club is still the destination, but due to never-ending construction in North Lawrence, we don't know what the actual route will be yet. (We're just hoping that our enormous float will be able to make the trip through North Lawrence, actually.)

Become a fan of the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade on Facebook, and RSVP to the Parade.