Shawnee Dispatch

Shawnee St. Patrick's Parade, Duck Race and Heroes Pull set for March 13

JJ Miller Jr. sits in the duck boat outside of Jake's Place Bar & Grill in Shawnee along with Janine Lannell, Lee Shaffer of Hyper Computer and Battle Games, JJ Miller and Barb Miller. Miller Jr. drove the duck boar around to several Duck Race sponsors on Saturday. Enlarge photo

March 2, 2016

JJ Miller Jr. took the famous duck boat mobile out for a spin this weekend to thank the sponsors of the upcoming 2016 Duck Race and St. Patrick's Parade.

The duck boat was the result of coming across an old duck paddleboat, some collaboration with local engineer Alan Willoughby and several days of work more than a decade ago. The duck boat can now be seen every year at Shawnee's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration.

A row of ducks sits above the bar at Jake's Place on Johnson Drive where people can buy Duck Race tickets up until race day on March 13.

A row of ducks sits above the bar at Jake's Place on Johnson Drive where people can buy Duck Race tickets up until race day on March 13.

One of the biggest sponsors of the annual Duck Race is Janine Lannell, owner of Jake's Place on Johnson Drive. Lannell not only sells duck tickets every year for the event, she turns her bar into what she calls "duckville." She has somewhere from 700 to 1,000 stuffed, rubber and sculpture ducks in the bar every March.

"People go out of town, come back and bring me ducks from around the world," Lannell said.

The Duck Race is the main fundraiser each year for the Shawnee Sister Cities Committee, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the committee. The committee uses the money to fund events related to Shawnee's three sister cities, like the dedication of Erfurt Park last year.

"It was money from the Duck Race that helped us house all the dignitaries that came over from Erfurt to see the dedication of the park," Miller said.

Duck Race ticket purchases give people the chance to earn some winnings if their rubber duck is the first one down a water course at Herman Laird Park. Each duck could be packing $1,500 of winnings. For a $5 donation, people can pick up a duck ticket prior to the race at Jake’s Place, 12001 Johnson Drive, and at the Knights of Columbus Hall on race day. The Duck Race is scheduled to begin this year at 4:30 p.m.

The duck race follows the St. Patrick's Parade, which kicks off at 1 p.m. This year marks the 34th annual parade, and the theme is the "Irish Trifecta" of the parade, Duck Race and Heroes Pull. Parade line-up begins at 11:30 a.m. at Johnson Drive and Monrovia Street and proceeds down Johnson Drive east to Nieman Road. The awards ceremony is held immediately after the parade at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 11221 Johnson Drive.

The Irish American Club of Johnson County and the Shawnee St. Patrick’s Parade Committees selected Chef Renee Kelly of Renee Kelly's harvest as this year's parade Grand Marshal.

There will also be a special guest at the Knights of Columbus Hall after the parade. Pat O’Neill, the 2016 Grand Marshal of the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, will join the dignitaries, families, businesses and community in Shawnee on March 13 as well. O'Neill is the author of "From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City," in which he chronicles the colorful social, economic and political evolution of immigrants from the emerald isle. O’Neill will be signing copies of his book at the Knight's of Columbus Hall.

The annual Heroes Pull, in which the Shawnee fire and police departments raise money for Special Olympics of Kansas, begins at 2:30 p.m. in the Splash Cove parking lot.

Team check-in and weigh-in begins at 1:30 p.m. Teams compete by pulling a Shawnee Fire Truck and a Lenco Armored Tactical Vehicle. Awards are given for the three fastest teams and to the team that raises the most money for the event.

More information on all of the events on March 13 can be found at

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