Zany Lawn Rangers Rev Up for Obama's Inaugural Parade
They aren't politically correct and they aren't very presidential. But somehow, the World Famous Lawn Rangers from Amazing Arcola (Illinois) - a longtime staple of beer-drenched St. Patty's Day parades in America's heartland - have secured a spot in President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade.
Pushing mowers and wielding toilet plungers and broomsticks, the Lawn Rangers have entertained rowdy crowds from the St. Patrick's Day parade in Chicago and the Indy 500 parade in Indianapolis to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix and the Holiday Bowl parade in San Diego. They've also participated in countless community parades throughout the Midwest, including Arcola's Broom Corn Festival parade, where they first marched 28 years ago, bonded by their only talent: pushing mowers.
And now, they'll get a chance to wow the millions of Americans expected to descend on the nation's capital for Obama's inauguration next month.
"We're greatly honored," the zany troupe's co-founder, Pat Monahan, tells the Sleuth, having been chosen above hundreds of other applicants. "I have to think it was diversity."
Sure, if you call middle-aged white guys diverse. Though, to be fair, the Lawn Rangers and their "Banner Babes" - who will be called "Banner Abes" in the inaugural parade, in keeping with Obama's Lincoln theme - now range in age from 21 to 80. And they include union workers, lawyers and business people alike.
They usually decorate their mowers with Lazy-Boy recliners, beer kegs and the like. But for Obama's inaugural parade, they're toning down their act - quite a bit. Never fear, they'll still have plenty of the corny shtick that made them famous.
Monahan says his 50 or so fellow Lawn Rangers (whose ranks include humorist Dave Barry) plan to honor Obama with "a few tricks" that will meet Secret Service standards. While he wants to keep most of them a surprise for Jan. 20, he did give us a few hints of what to expect in their synchronized Obama-centric routine down Pennsylvania Avenue.
And yes, the act will still involve toilet plungers, broomsticks and banners. The Lawn Rangers will still wear their signature dusters, cowboy hats and masks. And their motto will remain the same: "You're only young once but you can always be immature."
"We have a mower with an owl on it, a plastic owl; it'll say, 'Obama is wise,'" Monahan says. Another mower has hands coming from underneath it, grabbing the starter. That one has a sign on it that says "Self Starter." (Cue the oohing and aahing of ecstatic Lawn Rangers fans. "Oh, honey, isn't that cute? Get it? Self Starter!")
Besides their diversity, the real reason why the World Famous Lawn Rangers from Arcola were chosen to march in the inaugural parade may well have something to do with the time they coaxed Obama to grab a toilet plunger and march with them in Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2003. What a candidate won't do when he's running for a Senate seat in Illinois! (Just ask Rod Blagojevich.)
You can see the Lawn Rangers in actionin this video and in this tribute to the World Famous Lawn Rangers. But as the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette points out, since securing a spot in the inaugural parade, most videos of Lawn Rangers have "suddenly disappeared from YouTube."
So don't forget to bring your camcorders on inauguration day.
Mary Ann Akers
December 11, 2008; 2:03 PM ET
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