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Gigantic potato added to lineup of zany Arkansas St. Patrick's Day parade

by Hot Springs Sentinel-Record | December 31, 2018 at 10:23 a.m.

A tremendous tuber traveling by tractor-trailer will make its way onto the 98-foot stretch of Bridge Street on March 17, adding to the absurdity of the First Ever 16th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade in Hot Springs.

The 4-ton Big Idaho Potato and its accompanying truck and trailer — at a combined 72 feet long — will almost fill the length of Bridge Street, Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, said in a news release.

"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 in the release. "That catastrophe left a million Irish people dead and saw a million more immigrate 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 and cultural heritage back to Ireland."

The spectacular spud, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission, has traveled the country annually since 2012, making nearly 70 appearances at events across America.

A news release from the commission says the most frequently asked question remains, "Is it real?"

"We'll never tell ... but if it is," the commission says the spud is the equivalent of 21,562 Idaho potatoes and would take 7,000 years to grow. A spud this size would take two years 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.

Arrison said in the release this potato annually makes appearances in events such as the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C., festivities surrounding the Kentucky Derby, and NASCAR Poconos Raceway, "so we are really pleased that they have added Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, to the tour for 2019."

The parade will feature "The Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio as the celebrity grand marshal and Ellen DeGeneres' favorite DJ and dancer, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, as the official starter.

The parade also includes a 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."

Smash Mouth will play a free concert the Saturday night before the parade and Three Dog Night will perform on Sunday after the parade.


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