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story.lead_photo.caption Grand marshal Ralph Macchio greets paradegoers and hands out beaded necklaces Sunday evening during the First Ever 16th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. More photos are available at - Photo by Grace Brown

HOT SPRINGS -- Hot Springs capped its three-day St. Patrick's Day celebration on Sunday with the First Ever 16th Annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade on Bridge Street in downtown Hot Springs featuring Karate Kid actor Ralph Macchio as celebrity grand marshal and dancer Stephen Laurel "tWitch" Boss as the official starter.

"We love this. It's the most festive St. Patrick's Day parade we've ever been to. It's exciting to be able to see the celebrities. I've always wanted to meet the Karate Kid," said Elishia Fairfield of Conway.

"This is the most awesome parade we've been to. We drove all the way here to tell Macchio to 'Stay Gold,'" said Emily and Victoria Walter, also of Conway.

Gallery: First Ever 16th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Earlier, at the annual VIP party hosted by Visit Hot Springs, the parade's sponsor, at the Hot Springs Convention Center, Macchio kept things lighthearted when being introduced to the invitation-only crowd.

"Yeah, I'm glad I brought the crappy weather in," Macchio joked, saying he was a little concerned about the "raining on the parade thing." After successive weekends of rainy weather, Hot Springs finally enjoyed a dry, sunny weekend, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s.

Macchio said he was happy and "very, very excited" to be the celebrity grand marshal. "Everybody couldn't be nicer," he said, adding that he had arrived in Hot Springs the night before.

Macchio acknowledged tWitch, the freestyle hip-hop dancer, entertainer and actor who was the runner-up on So You Think You Can Dance and was featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show by promising "there will be no dance competition, I am promising you right now. There will be no dance competition. Not one that I'm in!"

TWitch's wife, Allison Renae Holker Boss, who accompanied her husband to Hot Springs, is one of the professional dancers on Dancing with the Stars. Macchio appeared on the show in 2011, when he was paired with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.

Macchio also showed the VIPs his St. Patrick's Day necklace, which included plastic potatoes, tying into the first parade appearance by the World's Largest Potato on Wheels. The 4-ton Big Idaho Potato and its accompanying truck and trailer, at a combined 72 feet long, almost filled the length of the parade route on Bridge Street.

"So how big is the potato thing? It's like a gigantic, enormous potato?" Macchio asked. When someone from the crowd shouted "4 tons," Macchio shook his head. "That's a lot of French fries."

Macchio and tWitch also presided over the annual crowning of the St. Patrick's Day king and queen -- Scott McClard, who co-owns and helps operate the 90-year-old McClard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant, and Dona Pettey, who owns the Ohio Club with her husband, Mike.

"If I was in Harry Potter this should do something," Macchio joked after crowning Pettey queen, waving around her scepter, which is shaped like a shillelagh, as if it was a magic wand. "Expecto patronum," he said, repeating one of the boy wizard's spells, to no effect.

Metro on 03/18/2019

Print Headline: PHOTOS: Karate Kid, tWitch in Hot Springs for St. Patrick's Day parade


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