First Ever Ninth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Appropriately enough, the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade history begins with an Arkansan of Irish descent sharing a few pints of malted beverage with some friends. As the pub where they had gathered was situated on the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use — Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas’, Bridge Street, the conversation evolved into a question of how to use Bridge Street’s 98-foot length to attract visitors to Hot Springs.
Naturally, it was the Irish descendant who suggested organizing the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade on the street.
That was 2003, and The First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held on March 17, 2004 and it made St. Patrick’s Day Parade history. A few thousand people gathered for fun and frivolity in the heart of America’s First Resort and it became a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in Hot Springs.
After the first parade attracted national attention, a couple of other groups maintained that they had shorter parades. Research showed that one of the challengers wasn’t so much a parade as a bunch of people wandering around in a city park. The Hot Springs parade organizers notified the second challenger that the title would remain in Hot Springs even if the Arkansas Parade participants had to march in place — or even march backwards — to keep its designation as World’s Shortest.
In the interim, many things have been added to the parade and the crowd has grown to more than 30,000 fun-lovers.
The Arkansas Blarney Stone, reportedly discovered by a leprechaun in the forests that surround Hot Springs, was placed on display in front of the Hot Springs Convention Center in 2006, and is now the scene of the annual Blarney Stone-kissing contests known as Romancing the Stone.
In 2008, a Parade King and Queen were chosen by a secret committee of the original parade organizers, and that has now become an annual St. Patrick’s Day tradition in Hot Springs.
Tim Matheson, 2012
John Corbett, 2011
Bo Derek, 2010
John Ratzenberger, 2009
Mike Rowe, 2008
Mario Lopez, 2007
Pauley Shore, 2006
George Wendt, 2005
Bob Wheeler, 2004
Dick Kelley, 2004