At long last, there will be horses!
Six big old Clydesdales.
Yes, the First Ever 14th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, will enjoy on March 17 the presence of the world-renowned Express Employment Professional Clydesdales.
“We’ve wanted to have some horses in our zany little parade for years,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and one of the originators of the internationally acclaimed parade. “But, we didn’t want to include just a couple of folks riding Old Dobbin.
“Now, Neal Harrington, owner of the Express Employment Professionals franchise in Hot Springs, has arranged for the famous Express Black Clydesdales to join our event this year,” Arrison said. “The Clydesdales will be pulling a beautiful custom-designed stagecoach, which will make their participation that much more thrilling for the 30,000 parade-goers.
“These magnificent animals will be a wonderful addition to what is already recognized as one of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world.”
“I’m looking forward to providing this unique opportunity for our community,” Neal Harrington said. “Of a rare black and white color, the Express Employment Professionals Clydesdales stand 17 to 18 hands high and weigh more than 2,000 pounds each. Their shoes are the size of dinner plates and weigh more than three pounds each.
“In addition to competing on a national stage, the Express Employment Professionals Clydesdales have participated in some of the country’s most recognized parades and promotional events, including Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Tournament of Roses Parade, Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Fiesta Bowl Parade, Orange Bowl Parade, Hollywood Parade, Calgary Stampede Parade, Kentucky Derby Pegasus Parade, the International Finals Rodeo and the Professional Bull Riders World Finals.”
The Express Clydesdales are most famous for escorting William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, during their recent visit to North America.
In 1998, Bob Funk, owner of Express Ranches and CEO and chairman of Express Employment Professionals, visited the longstanding Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. While there, he met and fell in love with the rare and beautiful black and white Clydesdales.
Clydesdales are big, powerful, refined draft horses named after, and imported from, Clydesdale, Scotland. Historically, they were bred to work. Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, medieval knights rode them into battles and in jousting tournaments. But, when the ancient era passed, Clydesdales assumed more moderate chores like plowing fields and pulling carts along the streets of Europe.
While the breed usually varies in different shades of bay, chestnut, and black, only 10 percent of the Clydesdale population in North America is black and white in color. These gentle giants are beautiful, graceful and extremely even-tempered. And, when hitched together as a team, it’s like watching a dramatic ballet.
As Bob Funk will tell you, “It was love at first sight,” on that fateful day in Canada.
The Hot Springs Express Employment Professionals franchise began operation in 2007 and serves the Hot Springs, Malvern and Arkadelphia areas with temporary help and direct hire employees in a variety of fields, including general office, industrial, sales, hospitality, and finance.
The Hot Springs office, located at 1702 Malvern Avenue, Suite B is currently accepting applications.
Express is on a mission to put a million people to work annually. In 2015, the company generated $3.02 billion in sales and employed a record 500,002 people.
For more information, visit expresspros.com/hotspringsar.
This year’s World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held along world-famous 98-foot-long Bridge Street, will feature TV star Alfonso Ribeiro as the celebrity grand marshal and wrestling legend Ric Flair as the official starter. Musician Uncle Kracker will perform a free concert immediately after the parade, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The parade, which began in 2003, annually attracts crowds of upwards of 30,000 people to watch an insanely zany collection of Irish Elvis impersonators, green Irish wolfhounds, marching units such as Paddy O’Furniture, Irish belly dancers and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, as well as bands and other unique units cover the 98-foot length of Bridge Street in the heart of downtown Hot Springs.