The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

posted on 2/28/14

future birthplace of james t kirk 2

Nearly every small town has its own claim to fame–from Clarksdale, Mississippi, birthplace of the blues, to Riverside, Iowa, the “future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk”–and Hot Springs, Arkansas is no exception. In addition to being the birthplace of President Bill Clinton, it is also home to Bridge Street, a paltry 98-foot street that was officially designated the “Shortest Street in the World” by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in the 1940’s.

bridge street

However, while many towns would be satisfied with their modest claim to fame, Hot Springs’ taste of the limelight merely whetted its appetite. In 2004, seeking to capitalize on the cache of having the “World’s Shortest Street”, Hot Springs introduced a new tradition: The “First Ever World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”

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While the spunky little parade might be short in stature, it’s definitely long on heart. The festivities begin with an event known as “Romancing The Stone”, a kissing contest where eager patrons showcase their makeout skills on a large rock known as the Arkansas Blarney Stone. Other bizarre attractions include the ceremonial Measuring of the Parade Route, the march of the International Order of Irish Elvi–a group of St. Patrick’s Day-themed Elvis impersonators–and performances by Mini Kiss, a little person Kiss tribute band that brings all of the excitement of the iconic 80’s Glam rockers at half the size (and probably the tiniest fraction of the cost).

mini kiss

Of course, what good is any parade without a Grand Marshal? In previous years, this plucky little parade has managed to wrangle such pop icons as Bo Derek, John Ratzenberger, Dirty Jobs star Mike Rowe, Mario Lopez and the beloved Pauly Shore.

parade celebrities

The main appeal of this fun and light-hearted spectacle, if you ask me, is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Right down to the name–this year will be the “First Ever Ninth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade”, this event gives the strong impression of a town that isn’t afraid to poke a little gentle fun at itself. Maybe that’s why this off-the-wall event manages to attract crowds as high as 30,000–all crowded around a stretch of road less than 100 feet in length. If you happen to find yourself in Arkansas this St. Patrick’s Day, go experience the excitement for yourself!

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