Where in the world is the most fun in the shortest distance on St. Patrick's Day? Why Hot Springs, Arkansas of course. In a clever ploy to get us to visit, Veronica's dad dropped a little “have you ever heard of The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade” on us early last March. How could we possibly resist an invitation like that?
Simple answer, we couldn't. We love a parade. And world's shortest things.
Early in the day on March 17th we motored into the heart of The Valley of The Vapors and staked a claim on a spot to watch “The First Ever Seventh Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” Unlike some St. Paddy's Day processions, this one is always held on March 17th and every year it's the “first ever.”
Hot Springs really decks out for the occasion, dying the famous fountains of healing waters kelly green. Historic Bridge Street, the shortest street in America in daily use according to Ripley's Believe It Or Not, is cordoned off and ready. The entire route covers a mere ninety-eight feet.
The course may be small but the event sure isn't. Thousands of revelers lined the tiny boulevard to catch a glimpse of numerous local dignitaries, Shriners, bikers, bands and babes in “Kiss Me I'm Irish” shirts.
All of that was just a warm up for the big guns. The crowd really got All Shook Up when a couple dozen Kings of Rock & Roll took to the street as the International Order of Irish Elvi. All we could say is “wow!”
Hard to believe, but when Elvis had left the building, it wasn't the finale. Each year a fabulous celebrity Grand Marshal finishes off the procession. This time Bo Derek, showed everyone that she's still a 10. Previous participants have been John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clayborn from Cheers), Pauly Shore and George Wendt ("Norm" from Cheers). The parade coordinators seem to like Cheers.
Country star Buddy Jewell struck up his band on a stage at the end of Bridge Street before the last piece of candy was snagged by a kid, segueing the parade into a street party / pub crawl. We decided to partake of a libation or two in some of the local watering holes, with one strict rule, we would drink nothing green.
After a stint at Hot Spring's version of an Irish Pub, where many of the Elvi were still strutting their stuff, we explored another offering - The Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival. This gave us the chance to enjoy two great bands at a funky little joint called Maxine's.
A looney little punk group called Giggle Party was on stage when we walked in. They spent the bulk of their show hanging from the rafters and doffing their clothes, all to the beat of some pretty clever compositions. Once the stage was cleared, which took place literally during their last song, the River City TanLines set up and took over. Singer, writer and lead guitarist Alicja Trout worked her Gibson Flying V in the finest power-trio rock tradition. Let's just say she's listened to a little Jimi Hendrix and it has served her well.
Ears ringing, we waded back into the night just in time to see the last of the beads, confetti and fake green fingernails being swept up.
By morning there wasn't a trace. Only 364 days until The First Ever Eighth Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com