You're only young once... but you can always be immature.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Short History of the World Famous Lawn Rangers from Amazing Arcola

If you attended a Midwest parade in the last 28 years, there’s a good chance you heard the following introduction to one of the more lasting and endearing parade success stories:
“Today, these masked men are starting their 28th year of crowd pleasing precision marching. After last year’s first place finish in the Holiday Bowl Parade, the Lawn Rangers are hoping to win the coveted 'participant' award in today’s BroomCorn Festival Parade. Dressed in their uniforms displaying Amazing Arcola - Hub of the Tri-Cities (Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis) and tossing their unique 'show' brooms (and often catching them), the Rangers are appearing in their 213th parade, once again proving their motto 'You’re only young once but you can always be immature'.”

Twenty eight years ago, a handful (13) of Arcola area citizens decided it was time to be part of Arcola’s Famous Broom Corn Festival Parade, instead of hecklers and observers. They took a talent inventory and came to the conclusion that pushing mowers and twirling brooms was probably the best they could do. But they did it with gusto. Soon after, invitations to appear in other festival parades poured in and the Rangers went on tour. The rest is history. Today, the Rangers can look back with pride on appearances in the following cities and festivals:

  • Benton Harbor, Michigan Blossom Time Parade
  • Mow – Town (Detroit) Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Chicago Holiday Parades and St Patrick’s Day Parades
  • St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade
  • Indianapolis Indy 500 Parade
  • Springfield Ill. State Fair Parades
  • Canton Pro Football Hall of Fame Parade
  • Phoenix Fiesta Bowl Parades
  • San Diego Holiday Bowl Parades

They have also appeared in community parades throughout the Midwest - too numerous to mention.

Over 1,000 individuals have marched with the Rangers, meeting their strict recruiting standard - “they weed themselves out”. These members are ages 21 to 80 and from all walks of life, bound only by a sense of humor, and the great bond of “fellership”. Their ranks include their team press agent, noted Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Dave Barry. Ranger Dave has appeared in 5 parades, written 5 columns featuring the Rangers, and sponsored a TV production starring himself and the Rangers. In addition to Ranger Dave’s fine work, the Rangers have appeared in many TV human interest specials. The area Press has also been kind to us with multiple fine stories on the adventures of the Rangers, as well as nice work by Ranger columnist, Tom Kacich.

And now, maybe their crowning achievement, The World Famous Lawn Rangers have been invited to March in this year’s Inaugural Parade. They befriended then Senate hopeful, Barack Obama, in 2003, at the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade and will honor him with a sparkling parade performance. The Rangers are planning to have an embedded reporter in their elite corps and have both uniform and equipment upgrades for this historic event.

“It’s a real honor”, says Pat Monahan, adding “I have been asked many times as to why I think we were selected over the almost 1400 other groups who applied for this position. I can only think that we are known for having a good time and showing people how to have a good time with us, and the Inaugural Committee must think our services are needed. It is a definite American trait - the ability to laugh at ourselves - which may be needed now more than ever. Or it could be that we were the only lawn mower drill team to apply.” He adds, “Never have so many done so much with so little.”

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