Since the early 17th-century St. Patrick’s Day has been one of celebration. Each March, cities and towns pay tribute to the Emerald Isle – Chicago dyes its river a glowing green and New York City draws two million spectators to its parade. And as local customs meld with leprechauns, shamrocks and bagpipes, communities around the world are adding a new twist to traditional St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
1) Hot Springs, Arkansas
The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade may also be the quirkiest. Across the 98-foot-long Bridge Street, labeled in the 1940s as the “Shortest Street in the World” by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, march a cast of characters, including the Famous San Diego Chicken, Irish Elvis impersonators and the Lards of the Dance, a troupe of middle-aged Irish dancers. This year’s events also feature the world’s shortest wedding ceremony at under a minute, as well as the “Romancing the Stone” competition, in which the parade-goer with the most original kiss for an impromptu Blarney stone wins a $100 prize. Also making an appearance, Dr. Albert Habeeb, who at 95 years old is the self-proclaimed “World’s Oldest Leprechaun.”
“It's not devoted to a bunch of blarney about being Irish,” says Paul Johnson, spokesman for the six-year-old parade. “It’s devoted to having fun.”