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'Bob Ross Bar Crawl' Celebrates 'Cool-Vibed, Iconic' PBS Painter

By Kyla Gardner | June 6, 2014 5:11am
 Jimmy Barrett, 25, is organizing the second annual crawl in September.
Bob Ross Bar Crawl
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CHICAGO — Wearing the same outfit as someone else at a party is a faux pas for some. But at Jimmy Barrett's 2012 Halloween party, there were no mistakes, only happy accidents.

Two of Barrett's friends, who didn't know each other, both came dressed as "The Joy of Painting" icon Bob Ross. The coincidence renewed Barrett's fondness for the painter, whom he remembers watching as a kid on PBS.

Barrett was inspired to start the "Bob Ross Bar Crawl" in Chicago, which drew 28 attendees in 2013. After the success of the first year, registration is now open for this year's crawl, which will be Sept. 20.

"It’s a pretty silly thing, in the end," Barrett said. "Basically, it’s a bunch of people who dress up like Bob Ross, have some drinks and have a good time. It's almost like a little Bob Ross parade."

Kyla Gardner details the event and hopes that no one has any "happy little accidents" along the way:

Barrett's rented trolley, full of beards, afro wigs and canvases, traveled to North Side bars like Cork Lounge, John Barleycorn and Lottie's Pub to the delight of many unsuspecting bar patrons.

Barrett said the key to the "happy tree" painter's look is his beard and hair.

"He's so iconic. You see the wig, you see the beard, that’s Bob Ross," Barrett said. And, "Some good props don't hurt."

Barrett's four-hour crawl is expected to cost $35. He said the purpose of his event is to have fun, and if the crawl turns a profit this year, he'll donate it to charity.

Ross, who died in 1995, donated some of his estimated 30,000 paintings to charities and fundraisers for PBS, magazine Mental Floss wrote.

Though the original inspiration for Barrett's crawl was the coincidental "Two Bob Rosses" costume — "They won every costume contest we had. It’s a legendary thing that happened" — he said the mellow painter is a hero anyone can feel inspired by.

"He's a positive, cool-vibed person," Barrett said. "Whenever you watch his show, it's no mistakes, and everything is there, and you make it work with your life. You can't say anything bad about a guy like Bob Ross."