HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — The World’s Largest Potato on Wheels has joined the lineup of the First Ever 16th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade® to be held Sunday, March 17, on 98-foot Bridge Street in downtown Hot Springs.
The four-ton Big Idaho® Potato and its accompanying truck and trailer will almost fill the length of Bridge Street, according to Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and one of the founders of the parade.
“The potato is woven deep into the heritage of Ireland and the millions of Irish Americans whose ancestors fled the Great Potato Famine of 1845 – 1852,” Arrison said. “That catastrophe left a million Irish people dead and saw a million more emigrate to the United States and other parts of North America.”
“While the Big Idaho® Potato will bring still more zany fun to our World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade®, it will also serve as a reminder of why so many Americans trace their ancestry back to Ireland,” he said.
The spectacular spud, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission, travels the country annually, making nearly 70 appearances at events across America.
It is the equivalent of 21,562 Idaho® potatoes, according to its sponsors. A real tremendous tuber of that size would take 7,000 years to grow, they say. It would take two years in a hot oven to bake and would make 20,217 servings of mashed potatoes or 970,380 french fries. It is 802 times heavier than the largest potato ever grown, which tipped the scales at 11 pounds.
“The tremendous tater annually makes appearances in such events as the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., the festivities surrounding the Kentucky Derby and NASCAR Poconos Raceway,” Arrison said, “so we are really pleased that they have added Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, to the tour for 2019.
“Along with the great new events we’ve added for 2019, the First Ever 16th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade® will be the most spectacular one we’ve ever seen.”
The Big Idaho® Potato Truck Tour has always had a charitable component to it, “A Big Helping.” During its tour, the truck’s management team will identify local charities to receive a $500 donation via a Signature Board that’s set up at the events the Truck visits. Past recipients have included food banks, children’s hospitals and animal shelters.
The three-day parade weekend in Hot Springs already includes the First Ever First Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Zero K® footrace at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 15.
“Our race will cover a course that is 299 feet long, one foot shorter than the granddaddy of all Zero K runs — the Wacky Florida Keys Cow Key Channel Bridge Run that is 300 feet long,” Arrison said. “Of course, that still makes our Zero K three times longer than the parade itself.”
“The St. Patrick’s Zero K is designed for athletes who do not like to get up early or break a sweat,” Arrison said.
Bill Solleder, director of marketing for Visit Hot Springs, said the Zero K will be presented by sponsor Michelob Ultra and Arkansas Beverage Sales of Hot Springs. All proceeds from the Zero K will benefit Tri-Lakes CASA, the organization of court-appointed special advocates for foster children that serves Garland, Hot Spring and Grant Counties.
The Zero K entry fee of $20 gets participants a Zero K T-shirt, a finisher’s medal and a race bib, Solleder said.
Online registration is available at https://runsignup.com/Race/AR/HotSprings/StPatricksDayZeroK.
The Zero K race will extend the 2019 St. Patrick’s weekend to three days, Solleder said.
“Since St. Patrick’s Day itself falls on a Sunday in 2019, we saw a great opportunity to add the Zero K to our previously announced lineup of great events,” he said. “In addition to the internationally acclaimed parade itself on Sunday, March 17, we will have free live entertainment by Smash Mouth on Saturday night at the Bridge Street stage where Bridge Street, Malvern Avenue, Broadway and Convention Boulevard intersect. Plus, we’ll have another free live concert by Three Dog Night on Sunday after the parade.”
This will mark the second year in a row that two free concerts have been held in conjunction with the internationally known parade, which annually attracts 30,000 celebrating fans to the downtown historic district.
No chairs will be permitted at either concert, according to Arrison.
The free 8 p.m. concert on Saturday, March 16, featuring Smash Mouth will climax a day of festivities that will start at 3 p.m. with the day’s opening of O’Kelley’s World’s Largest Inflatable Pop Up Pub adjacent to Bridge Street. Music will start at 7 p.m., with the Smash Mouth performance beginning at 8.
The First Ever 16th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade®, will feature TV star Ralph (The Karate Kid) Macchio as the celebrity grand marshal and Ellen DeGeneres’ favorite DJ and dancer, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, as the official starter.
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 other unique units cover the 98-foot length of Bridge Street, the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use.