Irish Family Traditions in Lawrence

This entry is all about family. My own family has a wee bit of history with this parade and events. My sister Jenna used to own a house along the parade route. My parents would drive three and a half hours here to watch the parade from the front porch. It was once such occasion many years ago that my folks met my now husband, Gary. Dad is pretty much all Irish so he loved it, and my mother who was full blooded German came along for the fun. Mom passed away in December, so for me this parade is for her and her resolve to be married to an Irishman for over 50 years.

The Kelly family has been involved for many years. Sarah and Kevin have been members of the committee for a long time, and Kevin’s mother crochets and then donates a comforter for the auction every year…and they are COOL. Several years ago, on the brink of the birth of their first child, Sarah was riding on a golf cart with Kevin helping line up entries. She was quite the trooper, and no doubt very uncomfortable being nine months pregnant and bumping along the brick streets within the staging area in east Lawrence. They came by the sign up station where I was working, and I told Kevin that I hoped that golf cart would make it all the way to Lawrence Memorial Hospital if the need presented. Their son Kaden waited a few days after that to be born. Their daughter Katelyn was born a few years after that, but she did not wait and was born ON St. Patrick’s Day. And no, they was not on a golf cart involved when the contractions began.

The “first family” of Lawrence’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the Weatherwax family. From the beginning this local family has been dedicated to the values and spirit of the Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The patriarch of this clan was John Weatherwax. His Junkyard Jazz Band never missed a single parade, and the band still performs as the committee’s “official” band to this day, although John passed away in August of 2009. The year after John’s passing his daughter Joy Pattin her husband Marty were honored as Senior Queen and King .

For many years John’s son Scott Weatherwax and his daughters Nicole and Cassie have been essential members of our committee. Nichole and her husband Jeremiah are carrying on the family tradition to the fourth generation in the very adorable manifestation of their little girls, Kendall and Jace. Cassie has not only served as treasurer for the committee, but was crowned St. Patrick’s Day Queen last year. Are still wondering if I was St. Patrick’s Day Queen 1998? Not yet my pretties.

The Weatherwaxes have made a huge impact on the parade, and the fund raising that attempt each and every year. Scott, who is the owner and operator of Free State Doors, started the Pool Tournament and the Bowling fund raisers. The whole Weatherwax clan and kin help with T-shirt sales, coordinate queen candidates, and they have served as officers for the group and much much more.

Have not been to a St. Patrick’s Day fund raiser yet? Well then you have a little Irish luck about you then! Join us for the 2nd Annual Irish Road Bowling on Sunday March 3rd. Never heard of IRB? You are not alone. Here are the basics. Take a small cannon ball and take turns chucking down the street. It’s kind of like golf, both games were invented in the same region of the world, and the team with the least amount of shots wins. That is about where the similarities end. In golf, (from what I understand, I don’t pay pasture pool) you try and keep a light weight ball on the grass. In road bowling, you try and heave this heavy metal ball down a street as far as you can while trying to keep it on the pavement. For anyone who has lived near a golf course and has experienced broken windows or dented siding due to a wayward ball, not to worry. The road bowling will take place at Clinton Park to the great relief of car insurance agents all around town. For full details and video clips of Irish Road Bowling, go to our website

Not your cup ‘o earl grey? There are still many chances for you and your family to get involved with our events. I mentioned in my last post, The Charity Auction will be this Saturday the 23rd at Corpus Christi School. There is also The Shamrock Shuffle 5K, and The Motorcycle Poker Run both on Saturday, March 9th. Here is the good thing about that. You don’t have to choose. Run your feet in the morning and run your chopper that afternoon. More on those next time.

Oh and there is this parade thing too. Our events and parade are family friendly. I have heard of families coming from KC to our parade because we keep it “kid friendly”. I hope to you and your family March 17th Downtown Lawrence.

Brenda Brown is the Director of Development and Marketing for Independence, Inc. She volunteers her time to The Lawrence St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

2012 St. Patrick's Day Queen Cassie Weatherwax ready for some Irish road Bowling

2012 St. Patrick's Day Queen Cassie Weatherwax ready for some Irish road Bowling by Brenda Brown

Tagged: Irish Road Bowling, Weatherwax, Auction, Poker Run, St. Patrick’s Day


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.