Wilmore Lawn Mower Brigade goes the extra yard to entertain

The Lawn Mower Brigade's signature move is wheelies.

JESSAMINE COUNTY-- Wilmore is the picture of a patriotic town. It may be small but its 4th of July parade has the same things you'll see in big city processions: police and politicians, cars and kids, floats and flags.

But there was one thing missing from this year's parade-- a group that practiced for hours to get there had to cancel. Rainy days don't cut it for what they do.

It's the Wilmore Lawn Mower brigade, a tradition that goes back 25 years.

Asbury College music professor Lynn Cooper set the wheels in motion back then. This year, a pastor, Daryl Diddle, took over the handles.

"You have to have a push lawn mower, a good sense of humor and a little coordination," Diddle said. "And what you really need is a good sense of humor. The other two are iffy. We can provide lawn mowers if they don't have lawn mowers."

Make no mistake. They do have coordination., as they move at a pretty good clip on their home turf. The group practiced in the week leading up the Independence Day, not knowing rain would cancel their performance. Co-director Glen Flanigan shouted out the commands and taught the team the mower maneuvers.

They march to that comes from a single speaker pulled by a John Deere tractor. It's often the only music in the parade.

Two guys, Doug Butler and Ken Reitz, have been with the team since this all began in 1992. So they get the honorary spots at the front of the line.

"It's hard. We end up drenched with sweat by the time it's done.," Reitz said. But it's just fun to do so I keep coming back."

Even though the brigade missed this year's parade, it got to perform for an audience. People watched from their porches as the"lawn boys" practiced on a neighborhood street.

And of course, they're used to being asked if they'll mow a few lawns while they're out.

"Absolutely.," said Flanigan. "And why didn't we bring weed eaters?"

The group varies in size. Some years, there may be a dozen people. This year, two dozen showed up after a recruitment poster went out.

It was a tough call to sit out the parade, but wet streets and sharp blades don't mix. Their absence stood out like a tall blade of grass.

Butler said, "When we say we''re the highlight of the parade here, seriously I think that's true. It's a nice parade but we're really it."

Parade-goer Julie Jobryce agrees. "It was disappointing not to have them this year. We'll look for it next year."

Yes, there's always next year. You can bet the cut-ups will be out again next summer... sharpening their skills and hoping for a sunny return to tradition.

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