‘Twas a lovely parade
Although a brisk north wind buffeted the crowd gathered Saturday along Tonganoxie's Fourth Street, spirits were high for the 13th annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
"We've got some good floats this year," said John McCaffrey, one of the parade organizers. "There's a lot of excitement."
As McCaffrey spoke, members of the Tonganoxie High School band warmed up and children bundled onto floats scooted together to shake off the chill.
The Irish fairies had been out during the wee hours Saturday, painting a green stripe down the middle of Fourth Street, and taking time to fashion some shamrocks and a rainbow on the asphalt.
A few minutes before the parade started its ascent up Fourth Street, this year's Grand Leprechaun practiced his wave, chuckling at his own efforts.
"That's how they do it in Germany," said Jack Dempsey, seated atop a white convertible.
McCaffrey had named Dempsey the 2000 Grand Leprechaun.
"I was at the first parade," the 69-year-old Dempsey said. "I used to carry the flags, but I can't anymore."
This year's parade had it all 10 bagpipers and a lone drummer from Pipers of the Plains; brilliantly colored flags; a miniature horse led by Barbara Bennett of Lawrence; Girl Scouts from Troops 1581 and 3244 who tossed candy to the young and young at heart; and entries touting local and area businesses. Vehicles of every sort that traveled at every speed made their way along the parade route. More than 20 antique cars, several fire trucks and even a 1957 turquoise and white Nash Metropolitan rolled up the street.
Standing in the bright sun, 10-year-old Katy Kolman clutched a white plastic bag, which she'd been filling with goodies tossed to her by parade entries.
"She came prepared, as a veteran of many parades," said her mother, Kim Kolman.
"I got a Sacajawea coin, too," Katy said.
A newcomer to town, Judy Pope, smiled as the parade passed the spot she'd claimed on the north side of Fourth Street.
"It's pretty neat," she said. "This is my first Tonganoxie parade."
After the Tonganoxie Township fire truck passed, signaling the end to the half-hour celebration, parade-goers headed for their vehicles or the warmth of the Congregational Church basement, where a filling lunch awaited them.
Outside the church, the smells of corned beef and cabbage, and Irish stew wafted through the air. The lunch was the result of hard work by members of Chapter AT of P.E.O., who will use proceeds for scholarships and other philanthropic endeavors.
Debbie Breuer, a chapter AT member, rattled off exactly what it took to put on the lunch besides lots of organization and elbow grease, that is 150 pounds of corned beef, four cases of cabbage, 14 pounds of carrots, 16 pounds of potatoes and 14 pounds of stew meat. And for the biscuits: 25 pounds of flour and 10 quarts of buttermilk.
"Oh, and a secret ingredient in the stew we'll never divulge," she said. "Don't look in the trash cans. The Irish stew is authentic."