The Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade will return in its traditional form for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak to heightened anticipation from its volunteer committee members.
“We really want to encourage people to come out to all of these events,” said Janet Cinelli, co-chair of the parade.
Part of the excitement for this year’s parade is a return to giving back to the community. Every dollar that the St. Patrick’s Day parade and connected events raise go to that year’s chosen beneficiaries — always a Douglas County-area children’s charity. This year’s beneficiaries are the Lawrence Public Library Friends & Foundation, the Watkins Museum of History, and The Jefferson’s Foundation, a short-term resource for families in crisis.
Over the course of 34 parades, the committee has raised more than $1.2 million for local charities, Cinelli said. Even in 2021, despite the pandemic challenges, the parade committee managed to raise enough to donate $6,000 to each of eight local organizations.
Here’s a roundup of St. Paddy’s Day events coming up in Lawrence, including details about the parade.
19th annual Luck of the Irish Motorcycle Poker Run
☘️ 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 12, starting at Elmo’s Tavern, 508 Locust St. in North Lawrence
This year’s route begins and ends with Elmo’s Tavern, and it includes locations in Topeka, Tonganoxie, Linwood and Eudora. At the end of the race, Elmo’s will host a chili contest, silent auction and raffle.
“Buy your poker hand at any location. Draw all cards at once OR visit them all to draw all 5!” the parade website explains.
Poker hands will be $20 each, and will be available at any location until 4:30 p.m., when the winner will be announced. Merchandise will also be available at all locations, including 2022 Poker Run T-shirts. Find more information at this link.
“It’s always a great day,” Cinelli said. “We also have a party bus, so if you don’t have a motorcycle, you’re welcome to ride on the party bus as well.”
☘️ 5 p.m. Sunday, March 13 at The Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania St.; reservations required
The Parade Committee will select its queen, a special representative in the parade’s pageantry every year. Other candidates participate in the parade as members of the Queen’s Court.
This annual event honors the candidates for their hard work during parade season, and it’s the only event of the year that they do not help run. Reservations are $15 per person, and only a few slots remained as of publication time. Find more information at this link.
Ad Astra Irish Mile
☘️ 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, starting near Ninth and Massachusetts streets
Though the parade starts at 1 p.m., Massachusetts Street always closes several hours beforehand for preparations.
Ad Astra Running and the parade committee will take advantage of the closed streets and hold a 1-mile race, according to a Facebook event page, in front of parade-goers, for 15 minutes. Runners of all abilities can participate, and all runners are guaranteed a custom T-shirt.
There are cash prizes for the top 7 finishers, with a first-place prize of $350, and a $150 cash bonus if anyone manages to beat the course record. Additionally, the first runner to the turnaround will win a pair of Saucony Kinvara running shoes.
Proceeds from the race will also benefit the parade’s beneficiaries. Registration is $45 at this link.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
☘️ 1 p.m. Thursday, March 17, with the route running through downtown and North Lawrence
“We’re super excited about the parade,” Cinelli said of the 35th annual event. “We haven’t had a parade since 2019, so we’re anticipating that it’s going to be a very big parade.”
The parade was one of the first big events in Lawrence that was canceled in March 2020, and Cinelli said the anticipation is leading to an even better event this year.
Cinelli said that the weather forecast looks great so far, and that they are expecting to have the maximum of 100 floats.
“If you haven’t (been to the parade in the past), boy this is a great year to start,” she said. “It’s going to be really amazing this year.”
MsAmanda Love’s Drag Show
☘️ 3 p.m. Thursday, March 17 at The Jazzhaus, 926 1/2 Massachusetts St.
MsAmanda Love is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Post Parade Afternoon Drag Show, featuring Novacayne DeMornay and other friends.
“St. Patrick’s Day this year is gonna be wild!” Love said in an Instagram post announcing the event. “… Grab some lunch after the parade and another green beer and meet us at the Jazzhaus!!!”
The drag show is not connected to the official parade events and fundraisers.
Irish Road Bowl
☘️ Noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 20 at Clinton Lake Campground No. 1 (21+)
In Irish Road Bowling, teams of four compete to get a metal cannonball around a 1-mile course at Clinton Lake in the fewest tosses.
“We start and end our season with Irish road bowling. (It is) probably the most fun event of the entire season,” Cinelli said. “I think our best number ever was somewhere around 19 … but it’s so much fun. I mean, whether you’re rolling in the 30s or you’re rolling in the high teens, it is absolutely a great day.”
The cost is $160 per team, and the minimum age to bowl is 21, as the day will include lunch and beer. Registration is available at this link.
Note: This article has been corrected from a previous version.
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Emma Bascom (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from December 2021 through May 2022. Read more of her work for the Times here.