FROM VAIL, COLO., THEY CAME, SIMPLE men with a dream. And lawn chairs. Children, small animals and adults stared when the Vail Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team first revealed itself at the Fourth of July parade in 1984. Amid the floats, a squad of guys in Hawaiian shirts, shorts and sunglasses strutted their way through a beer-bellied parody of military weapons drill. Instead of rifles, they twirled, tapped and tossed lawn chairs. And they chanted: “Got myself a new beach chair/This is where I park my rear…Boom chugga lugga lugga, boom!”
The Vail crowd went wild, especially when the team lobbed water balloons at the onlookers and hit former President Gerald Ford.
From that semimythic beginning, the group’s fame grew. Their very first road trip, in 1985, took them to Manhattan…Kansas. Then came the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Kansas City, Mo., Founders Day Parade in North Attleboro, Mass., NBA half-time shows in Denver and conventions around the country. Last October they filmed a 30-second Miller Lite commercial for which each earned $1,928—union scale.
Why would nine grown men: Craig Campbell, Gary Pesso, Will Lewis, Kirk Kennedy, Nick Svoboda, Brian Heslerlee, Jeff Alencio, Gary Howe and Richard Carnes—whose ages range from 24 to 39 and whose real-life careers include photographer and lumber inspector—do this? “We originally started it to meet girls,” says Campbell, 33, a founding chair man who works in a Vail country club. “Now some of us are married, and we do it to meet girls.”