The men of the Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra think big. Really big.
You've seen these guys in the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade. They dress in native-suburban garb—shorts, dark socks, T-shirts and sunglasses—and play standards like "Yankee Doodle" on kazoos, bucket-drums, washboards, vuvuzelas, pot lids and cowbell. This year, they're introducing the Stumpf Fiddle. Their sheet music is written on rolls of toilet paper hung around their necks.
EAO, formed in 2009, draws its inspiration from a character in the movie Stripes played by popular actor and all-around funny man Bill Murray. His character, John Winger, leads a rag-tag bunch of Army recruits in parade exercises only Murray could pull-off.
Well this year, EAO members want Bill Murray to lead them in the 17th annual Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday, March 9. But they wondered, how would they ever get the attention of a big star like Murray? That’s where the idea to build something really big came into play.
Members of the EAO have spent the last five months designing and building "The World’s Largest Drum." A Purdue University drum claimed that distinction, at 8 feet in diameter. So, EAO members built a drum that is 9 feet in diameter and weighs more than 500 pounds. They have adorned the drum with Murray’s picture and hope this monument to the actor will entice him to appear at this year’s parade.
“We plan to send press releases all over the country in an attempt to get Mr. Murray’s attention," EAO Co-founder Scott Sutherland said. "Even if we are unable to get him to lead us, we have enjoyed building ‘The World’s Largest Drum.’ ”
The drum, nicknamed Mary, took more than 200 man-hours to construct.
“Mary is definitely not a precision instrument, but she actually sounds pretty good,” Sutherland said.
“Our group was inspired by Bill Murray and it would be our honor to have him lead us in this year’s parade,” said Scott LaMorte, the group’s founding drum major. “I would be glad to pass the baton to Mr. Murray.”
The baton LaMorte refers to is actually a decorated, two-ended toilet plunger borrowed each year from a local funeral home.
While this all sounds like a long-shot, remember, Bill Murray was born in Wilmette and attended Loyola Academy, right here in the Land of Lincoln. Why wouldn't he be following the activities of the Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra?
Mr. Murray, if you choose to honor the EAO with your presence, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (630) 359-6565.
Here are a few things you should know about the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade:
- Deadline for entries is Saturday, Feb. 23.
- The Grand Marshals are the Elmhurst Unit District 205 School Board members.
- The parade steps off at noon March 9 at Wilson and Spring and heads north on Spring to the Canadian National Railroad tracks.
- It features more than 80 floats, marching units, dancers and other entertainers.
- There will be live bands and entertainment before the parade starts, so plan to come early.
- Spring Road merchants will keep the party going long after the parade, so plan to stay late.
- The parade is the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the Chicago area, according to parade organizers.
- If anyone would like to help out, contact Parade Chairman Jim O’Connor at (630) 834-0300 or info@ElmhurstStPatsParade.com
For more information about the Elmhurst St. Patrick's Day Parade, visit the parade website.