Lake County board member Barr fuses quarantine with karaoke for event that attracted 1,500 online

Steve Sadin
4–5 minutes

Lake County Board member Dick Barr, of Round Lake Beach, said he got the idea for a karaoke-while-quarantined, or “quaraoke” party, because he felt people self-isolated at home needed a release from the news related to the novel coronavirus, and he said over 1,500 people participated in the March 27 event he coordinated.

Barr said he wanted to give people a chance to unwind and have fun on a Friday night. He put out a call on his campaign Facebook page for those willing to participate to make a karaoke video and upload it to him.

“We see a lot of people arguing online about what means what means what and who’s right and who’s wrong,” Barr said. “The bottom line is we have a situation that we don’t fully grasp. We need to take hold of it to stop the spread or at least flatten the curve.

With the videos in place, Barr created a livestream on Facebook. He was the disc jockey talking to the online audience, introducing each performance and offering bits of wisdom along the way. He started the night on a serious note asking for a moment of silence before turning the mood lighter.

“Think about the importance of staying home. Don’t go out under any circumstances unless you absolutely have to,” Barr said. “We’re here to have fun,” he added after the moment of quiet. “Bring your own bottle.”

One of the first songs was an original piece by a family group entitled “Wash Your Dang Hands.” Just before that Barr offered a toast to Kris Schoenberger. The owner of BBQd Productions, Barr said Schoenberger was delivering meals to first responders.

Schoenberger took a lighter approach to his performance but it contained a serious message. With “Tequila” playing in the background, he uttered the title words at the appropriate time. He also intermittently waved a container of disinfectant wipes.

With at least 90 people online at any given time, Barr said a total of more than 1,500 checked in at some point during the nearly three-hour event. ]

Earlier in the week, Barr recruited 11 other Lake County officials, representing a bipartisan mix of township trustees, mayors and countywide officers, to join together singing a parody to “Sweet Caroline” with him. It urged folks to socially distance, wash hands and take other measures to keep themselves and others healthy.

Lake County Board member Dick Barr, of Round Lake Beach, coordinated and then was DJ for a karaoke-while-quarantined, or “quaraoke,” party March 27, 2020.

County board member Mike Rummel, of Lake Forest, said he participated in the song because he felt it was important for elected officials to set an example for others about the best way everyone can act for the public good.

“It was good to see every one of us trying to do something good for people,” Rummel said. “People are much bigger than political parties.”

The community collaborations continued with the start of a patriotic display in Lake Barrington.

Jim Thompson, a Lake Barrington trustee, had suggested that he and 11 residents on his Lake Barrington Shores cul-de-sac, along with his wife, simultaneously recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their driveways each morning.

Thompson said seven of the 11 gathered under uncertain weather conditions March 28 to say the pledge. Several displayed flags at their homes. He too feels people want to gather and show support for each other during the current unprecedented times, he said.

“It felt really nice,” Thompson said of the communal gathering, with everyone more than six feet apart. “Everyone said it out loud. They all said they’d be back tomorrow. We’re going to do it every day.”

Barr and Vance Wyatt of North Chicago have also decided to let their beards grow as long as the shelter in place order remains in effect. A Facebook page was created for the “Beardpocalypse” and each time they post a picture with their facial hair growth. Proceeds could benefit to United Way of Lake County.

Steve Sadin is a freelancer.