The street painting gang

Every year at dawn on this special day, a procession of figures wearing green jackets (some of them showing quite a bit of wear) makes its way toward Pine Street.

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This is a gang of street painters. Their bellies are full of biscuits and gravy by now, and they are on a mission.

The annual tradition starts to take shape about 3 a.m. on the morning of the St. Pat’s Parade. Officially, only alumni reps of the St. Pat’s Committee are invited to participate. But there is an open invitation for any of these reps to show up and everyone is welcome to watch when the real action begins.

Lance Haynes, faculty advisor to the St. Pat’s Committee, always checks on the paint at an undisclosed location. Meanwhile, the alumni reps congregate around a big fire at someone’s house in Rolla and drink tea. Afterwards they go out for breakfast before heading toward Pine Street.

“Most of these guys only see each other once a year for the annual street painting,” says Haynes, a professor of speech and media studies at UMR. “One year, a guy flew in from Japan just to paint the street.”

The green paint is mixed in big garbage barrels and trucked downtown by baby reps (students who are in their first year on the committee). They park at the south end of Pine Street and begin distributing mops – about 100 of them – to the alumni reps. One year they tried cement mix trucks, Haynes says. That was very effective, but not as much fun.

The paint is a fast-drying formulation and it’s thinned with water so that it will wash off without too much trouble. Armed with the mops, the painters work their way toward the north end of the street, turning everything they see green.

Kevin Kriewall, CE’82, was around for the 75th St. Pat’s celebration and he’s looking forward to the 100th. “I always come back for street painting,” says Kriewall, a partner in a Tulsa, Okla., engineering firm. “Well, I did miss 1990 when my daughter was born.”

Last year, Kriewall brought his daughter to the parade. He has painted in the rain, sleet and snow. But, he says, his first street painting experience in 1982 is still the most memorable.

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