Passersby can’t help but notice three wooden stick figures riding bicycles across the ridge of Jim Barnaby’s house at the end of Peach Street.
Barnaby has been living in the iconic northeast “bicycle house” since the 1970s, when he bought it for $4,000, he said Friday, standing on its metal roof with his sculptures.
“It didn’t look like this back then,” he said, of the quirky wood-sided house. “A lot of sweat equity went into it.”
In fact, the home was so quirky and run-down, high school kids back then dubbed it “the devil house” and Barnaby “the devil worshipper.”
But times change, and Barnaby has been an icon of the northside community’s annual Parade of Sheds since its inception in the early 1990s. The Parade of Sheds is a tongue-in-cheek jab at the co-occurring Parade of Homes – an annual building industry showcase event.
An annual Parade of Sheds entrant, Barnaby has also led the later-introduced actual parade, riding one of his donkeys or mules each year. The parade ends at “ground zero,” the alley next to his home.
The loosely organized parade starts “between 9:30 and 10 a.m.” and meanders from the railroad station through the neighborhood for about 45 minutes, Barnaby said.
“It doesn’t take long to put the parade together,” he said. “We’re never sure what’s going to happen. But then all of a sudden, people start beating on drums and off we go.”
But this year’s event will be a little different.
“It’s the last hurrah,” Barnaby said. “At least for me.”
This year’s Parade of Sheds will be his last – at least as a resident of the neighborhood. Barnaby will be moving to land he bought in Wilsall next spring.
And, sadly, he’ll be taking the landmark trio of cyclists he calls “the dysfunctional family” with him.
He’ll resurrect them at his new abode but, he said, he’ll also conjure up a new moniker for the threesome.
Though Barnaby plans to participate in this morning’s parade, he won’t be riding the donkey as he has in past years either. There’s no place anymore to pasture the critter nearby, and the logistics of bringing it from his father’s property west of Bozeman is more than Barnaby wants to deal with, he said.
He’s confident, however, the Parade of Sheds won’t die, though it will be the last time he can enter his “bottle house,” a shed made of mortar, bottles and mirror pieces, in the tour.
Upon learning the rooftop cyclists will be leaving their community, people tell Barnaby they are sad, he said.
‘There’s people that can’t believe it’s happening,” he said. “But that’s the way it is.”
And if you’re looking for Barnaby in today’s parade, look for the guy behind the Mexican devil mask. That’s probably what he’ll wear, he said.
But then again, you just never know.
Jodi Hausen can be reached at email@example.com or 582-2630.