SOURCE: Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau

Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau

February 23, 2015 11:34 ET

Route Reversed to Honor NASCAR Legend Mark Martin for 2015 World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade March 17

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, AR--(Marketwired - Feb 23, 2015) - One of the oldest bits of humor about being a NASCAR driver is that "you just keep steering left" to negotiate the huge oval tracks on which the car racing events are held.

"The route of the First Ever 12th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade March 17 has been changed by the Parade Committee after a proclamation by Parade King Don Gooch and Queen Kerry Owen in honor of our grand marshal, NASCAR legend Mark Martin," said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and one of the creators of the internationally famous St. Paddy's Day event. "We're going to reverse the route so that Mark's official grand marshal car will only have to keep turning left."

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, exiting south onto Central Avenue, Arrison said.

"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."

"Nothing will change for the 30,006 fans except they'll have to turn their heads in the opposite direction to catch all the zany fun," Arrison said. "We realize that a few of our revelers may have a hard time learning this new procedure for viewing the parade, and we have considered printing instruction sheets to show them how to look the opposite way from years past."

"We are the First EVER St. Patrick's Day Parade to completely reverse its route to honor the grand marshal," Arrison said. "That is testimony to the high regard in which we hold this Arkansas legend. You never hear of those fancy schmantzy parades in New York and places like that reversing their routes to accommodate the skills of their grand marshals, do you?"

Martin, a man accustomed to driving high-powered race cars 500 miles in an afternoon, has been advised not to blink as he covers the 98-foot length of the parade route on Bridge Street in about 30 seconds in a convertible. Bridge Street has been named by Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the world's shortest street in everyday use.

Martin's famous No. 01 U.S. Army race car will be on public display for two days as part of the festivities surrounding the parade.

"We anticipate a huge group of his fans will be interested in seeing him and the car that played such a prominent part in his legendary NASCAR career," said Arrison. "To accommodate these fans, Mark's car will be on display in front of the Hot Springs Convention Center on Monday, March 16, from noon until 7 p.m. and on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m."

Since its beginning as the idea of some Hot Springs residents enjoying an adult beverage in 2003, The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade has grown to an annual magnet for about 30,000 fun-lovers across America drawn to its international reputation as the place to have fun on this most Irish of days.

The parade includes 40 marching units, floats, dancers, singers, performance artists, the International Order of the Marching Irish Elvi (50 green-clad Elvis impersonators), marching Irish wolfhounds and assorted crazies.

The Swon Brothers, who are taking the country music world by storm, will perform at the free post-parade concert on Bridge Street after the parade. They also will be the official starters for the 98-foot parade.

Four of the world-famed Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have enjoyed Hot Springs and the parade fans twice before, and gleefully accepted the invitation to come liven up the event again.

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

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