Gary Busey Joins World Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Gary Busey from Big Brother
••• Gary Busey from Big Brother. Karwai Tang / Wire Image / Getty Images

What could be a better match for the World's Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade than Gary Busey? Busey is known for his loud, zany and unpredictable personality. He knows how to have a good time.   Loud, zany and unpredictable fun is the way most people would describe the World's Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade.  They know how to have a good time too.

About the Parade

The World's Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade takes place on historic Bridge Street (map) in Hot Springs.

  Bridge street is only 98 feet long, and it was named the shortest street in the world by Ripley's Believe It or Not in the 1940s.  Leave it to the residents of Hot Springs, the home of quirky attractions, to come up with the idea to have a parade on it.

The inaugural World's Shortest Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held in 2004.  It has taken place every year since then.  Sponsored by the Hot Springs Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the parade started as a fun joke, but now it's taken on a life of its own.  People from all over the world pile up on the tiny street.  Afterwards, there is usually a pub crawl and dance, and I bet you'll be able to find some green beer somewhere.

Celebrity Guests

This year, Gary Busey, best know for his role in the Buddy Holly Story, is the official starter of the parade.  They call him the official starter, but when you have Gary Busey signed up, you never really know what you're going to get.

  He should be a real hoot to watch, especially since the starters usually stick around for the festivities.

The role the celebrity guests usually fill is "Celebrity Grand Marshal."  The parade has had a Celebrity Grand Marshal since 2005, with Bo Derek and John Corbett being marshal twice. The first celebrity to Grand Marshall the parade was George Wendy, followed by Pauley Shore, Mario Lopez, Mike Rowe, John Ratzenberger, Bo Derek, John Corbett, Tim Matheson, Bo Derek and John Corbett together, Jim Beushi and Mark Martin.

This year, the Celebrity Grand Marshals will be the Bacon brothers, Kevin and Michael Bacon. 

Parade Festivities

So, what can you do in a 98-foot parade? You would think that there wouldn't be a lot, but they actually squeeze a lot into 98 feet.  In the past, they've had the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, 100 Irish Elvis Presley impersonators and "Duck Dynasty's Mountain Men."   This year, they promise to have the world’s largest leprechaun, the Irish Elvis impersonators will be there again, Irish belly dancers, dozens of floats and marching units, green marching Irish wolfhounds, music, bagpipes and more.  None of the floats are overly serious and everyone is just there to have a great time.

Before the parade, they have a Blarney Stone Kissing Contest.  You win $100 if you can "romance the stone" better than anyone else in the crowd (green beer may help your chances).  After the parade, they have live music and dancing in the street.

This is a fun, quirky parade and you won't find a parade like it anywhere else.  Only in Arkansas can people have so much fun with so little space. 

If you're interested in being only one degree from Kevin Bacon (and Gary Busey), head down to Bridge street on March 17.

  The Blarney Stone kissing contest starts at 4:30 p.m.  The parade festivities kick off at 5:30.  They measure the parade route every year before the parade starts.  You never know when a street will grow a few feet.  Then, at 6:30 the parade starts.  It's a short route, so the parade doesn't take too long.  After the parade, at 7:30, the band, this year the Bacon brothers, plays and there is dancing in the street.  You can also take part in a local pub crawl.  There are many bars and restaurants near the area where the parade takes place.

The parade is usually family friendly, if you're kids are mature enough for Saint Patrick's Day revelry.  Most of the humor is just good clean fun.  That's what Hot Springs is known for.  Good, clean fun...a little bit weird, but fun.