Boulder, Colo., and Fort Wayne, Ind., are challenging Hot Springs' claim to holding the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade. (March 17 for planning purposes.)
This challenge tickles Hot Springs promotions potentate Steve Arrison, who publishes a pugnacious press release in hopes of stirring the promotional embers. We bite. It's Saturday.
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Hot Springs, home to the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Pub Crawl, is fighting off a challenge from a new would-be rival for the title.
This one comes from Boulder, Colorado, by way of an inquiry from a travel writer. The writer asked Steve Arrison, CEO of the Hot Springs Advertising and Promotion Commission and one of the founders of the six-year-old Hot Springs parade, if he was aware that a group in Boulder claims its parade is the shortest.
“I’m glad that you asked,” Arrison responded. “We have been fighting off all challengers since we began this event six years ago.”
He continued, “We have already put down challenges from many towns with so- called short parades. There are many pretenders to the title including Boulder and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“One even gave up in Washington because they could not compete. Our answer to Boulder is simple: If they make their parade shorter we will make ours even SHORTER. We will march in place if that's what it takes.
“If they keep fooling with us, we will run the floats and marchers backwards and have a NEGATIVE-length parade.
“I hope this answers your inquiry. We look forward to seeing you in Hot Springs on March 17.”
“We did a little research on the Boulder and Fort Wayne so-called parades,” Arrison said. “Both fail the test.”
The parade in Boulder, sponsored by Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, “isn’t even held on St. Patrick’s Day,” Arrison said. “It’s held on the Sunday BEFORE St. Patrick’s Day, so it doesn’t really even qualify as a real St. Paddy’s Day parade unless the holiday happens to fall on a Sunday.”
The Boulder parade covers an entire city block, “so unless they’ve got a street shorter than our World Famous Bridge Street, it can’t be shorter,” he said. “Bridge Street became famous all over the world as the shortest street in America in everyday use, and our parade is only 98 feet long.”
Arrison said his research on the Fort Wayne parade was even more revealing. “They have a video of it, and it shows some people wearing hoodies walking around in a city park,” he said. “The video shows a tractor or two pulling a couple of hay wagons. But the key thing is that the video shows their parade is clearly very much longer than ours. It looks like it's several hundred feet long.”
“If Boulder or Fort Wayne want to challenge us,” Arrison said, “I propose we pit our World’s Tallest Leprechaun against a Boulder or Fort Wayne leprechaun of their choosing. We’ll hold a leprechaun wrestling match on Bridge Street and I predict our 6-foot-8-inch elf will pin their challenger in the first round.”
This year’s First Ever Sixth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, on Bridge Street in the downtown area.
The celebrity grand marshal will be “Cheers” star John Ratzenberger, and there will be an appearance before, during and after the parade by The Famous San Diego Chicken. A live band will play for a street-dance after the parade.
The official theme song for this year’s parade is a new song honoring America’s new president, “There’s No One as Irish as Barack O’Bama.”
There will be the second annual Romancing the Stone Contest, with a $100 cash prize, for the most original and entertaining way of kissing the Arkansas Blarney Stone, which sits in front of the Hot Springs Convention Center a half block from the parade route. In addition, there will be the crowning of King Shamrock and Queen Shamrock.
Parade entries are being accepted for floats, marching groups, musical groups and others.