The new King and Queen of the First Ever Eighth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be Dick Antoine and Susan Harper, it was announced today.
Antoine’s elevation to parade king means there will also be a new World’s Tallest Leprechaun — Monte Everhart — a position the lanky Antoine filled since the first parade in 2004.
Antoine, host of a popular radio talk show on KZNG, says he “was born a wee little Irish/French man at 7 pounds 11 ounces but soon grew into the Tallest Leprechaun at 8 feet 6 inches, including my hat.”
He has provided leadership and support for uncounted Hot Springs events and activities since moving to Hot Springs in 1988 with his wife, Becky and daughter, Stephanie. He says he considers Hot Springs his adopted home.
Antoine says he is “tickled to be named king of the First Ever Eighth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade” after retiring his Tallest Leprechaun knickers. He has been seen in a lot of different personas over the years including the Right Jolly Old Tall Elf, a superhero (“Neatness Man”), and who can forget the “Scary German Dude” at Octoberfest.
“I have enjoyed my Leprechaun duties throughout the years and say a big thank you to Steve Arrison, his staff, and the parade revelers for making every year so memorable and so much fun.”
Susan Harper is visitor service manager and volunteer coordinator at Garvan Woodland Gardens, with duties of managing the Welcome Center and special events, recruiting and training volunteers, and portraying the Gardens’ benefactress, Verna Cook Garvan.
She is married to Charles Harper, a retired insurance executive. They have two children: Spike in North Carolina and Leslie in California. “A year and a half ago,” Harper says, “Leslie and her husband, Taylor, produced our first and only grandchild, Calvin, The Wonder Boy.”
Harper is a board member of the Hot Springs National Park Rotary Club, Friends of the Fordyce, Pocket Theater and Fifty for the Future. She was voted Woman of the Year by Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and in The Sentinel-Record Reader’s Choice Awards.
“I have many Irish connections,” Harper said. “I have green eyes that are smiling. I have personally kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland and once marched in the First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in front of the Irish Wolfhounds, who had friendly noses.
“Lime green is one of my top three colors and I love Irish Spring soap. I had a red-headed kid with freckles and I eat a lot of Irish potatoes. My first boyfriend was born on March 17 and I love my Irish linen scarf. I handed out the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s President Bill Clinton trading cards all over Ireland, and I occasionally see a leprechaun (it could be a chipmunk) under my porch.”
Monte Everhart owns American Tire and Wheel in Hot Springs, which has been named the city’s No. 1 tire store 12 years in a row.
He moved to Hot Springs in 1989 to retire but after eight years in retirement he decided to open the tire store.
“I have hiked volcanoes in Hawaii, dined in German castles, quaffed a pint in an English pub, climbed the pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula and kissed my wife at the top of the Eiffel Tower,” Everhart said. “I took the stage at the Sydney Opera House, swam with sharks in the Caribbean, rode the rapids through the Grand Canyon and have gone scuba diving in Tahiti and the Great Barrier Reef.
“None of these adventures can compare with the thrill of being asked to serve as the World’s Tallest Leprechaun in the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I could never hope to fill the shoes of the previous Leprechaun, Dick Antoine, but I’ll try since the trust of such an unruly bunch of misfits has been placed in me.”