Hot Springs Shortest St Pats

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas - Mascots from Garland County schools will be joined by a purple cow Wednesday in welcoming a new giant leprechaun mascot for the First Ever 12th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will be held March 17 in downtown Hot Springs. 

The mascot meet-and-greet will be held in Room 201 of the Hot Springs Convention Center at 11 a.m., according to Chrissy Egleston, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs, the city's convention and tourism bureau. The public is welcome to attend. 

"Last year, Lucky the Leprechaun, a cousin of our new mascot from out of town, served as the giant mascot for our parade," Egleston said. "This year, we will have a new leprechaun - a  resident of Hot Springs - to spread cheer and foolishness before, during and after the parade. 

"The new mascot, whose official name will be revealed at 11 a.m. Wednesday, is not to be confused with The World's Biggest Leprechaun, which is a real being and has been present at every one of the previous 11 parades. The new guy is big, all right, but he's not actually a real being. Well, no leprechaun is a real being, but this one is bigger than life." 

Egleston said an online poll to name the new mascot has been conducted by parade organizers. The suggested names were narrowed down to three final choices: Shamus McPaddy; Hoddy O'Springs, and Paddy O'Bridges. The name will be revealed when the mascot arrives to be greeted by his existing Garland County mascots. 

Welcoming the new mascot to Hot Springs Wednesday will be: Lake Hamilton High School's Wolf; the Hot Springs High School Trojan; the Cutter Morning Star Eagle; the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science and the Arts' Dolphin and Polly the Purple Cow, Egleston said.  

"Other mascots are likely to show up unannounced to make Lucky feel welcome," Egleston said. 

This year's parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature NASCAR legend Mark Martin and country music stars The Swon Brothers as well as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. 

The parade route has been reversed from the traditional east-west direction in honor of NASCAR's tradition of only having cars steer left to negotiate the huge oval tracks on which the car racing events are held.  The parade approach route, which normally turns east off of Central Avenue onto the official parade route on the 98-foot Bridge Street, will instead turn west off Broadway onto Bridge Street then exit south onto Central Avenue, according to Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. 

"The actual parade route itself will still be only 98 feet long -- the length of Bridge Street," he said, "but the approach and exit from the official route will be opposite from years past." 

For more information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027.