Rhode Island village, Hot Springs battle for distinction as home of world’s shortest parade

Hot Springs dared to make St. Patrick’s Day bash shorter

A group of women carry a sign for the World's Shortest St. Paddy's Day Parade in Adamsville, Rhode Island, on March 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Sakonnet Times)
A group of women carry a sign for the World's Shortest St. Paddy's Day Parade in Adamsville, Rhode Island, on March 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Sakonnet Times)

HOT SPRINGS -- A tiny village in Rhode Island has challenged Spa City about which community can lay claim to the bragging rights for the world's shortest parade held on St. Patrick's Day.

Bragging rights are on the line between The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will be celebrating its 21st year in Hot Springs, and the World's Shortest St. Paddy's Day Parade, which was started by Chuck Kinnane in Adamsville, R.I., three years ago.

Kinnane said the idea for the parade came several years ago during a St. Patrick's Day breakfast with his family.

"We live in a little village in Rhode Island called Adamsville, and my family -- my brothers and my cousins -- we get together for St. Patrick's Day breakfast every year," he said.

"My cousins Stu and Pat were like, 'We should have a parade. The village needs a parade.' And we all joked that if we did a parade, it'd be the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade, and so it kind of started as a joke."

Adamsville, which is a village in the town of Little Compton, is "very small," Kinnane said.

"The town is about 3,000 people, and the village is even smaller," he said. "The village of Adamsville is a small part of the town, and I couldn't even tell you the population. ... It's probably only a couple hundred people in the village."

Kinnane said he could not recall if he knew about the Hot Springs celebration that first year, but since their route has been the same 89 feet each year, he assumes that he did. Hot Springs' route is 98 feet, the length of Bridge Street where it is held each year.

"Maybe the first year we did know the 98 feet because it was shorter (than the Hot Springs parade) the first year," he said. "But what we did was we walked from a lamppost outside of our studio -- we have a film production studio, my brothers and I in the village -- and we walked from the lamppost to the driveway of the studio."

Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said in a news release over the weekend the Adamsville parade is shorter, leading Kinnane to issue a challenge.

"We wanted to challenge Hot Springs, too, because they have now acknowledged that we are the shorter parade," he said. "So we wanted to challenge Hot Springs to make it shorter this year, and if they did, if they officially came under our record of 89 feet, then we would make a donation to the charity of their choosing."

While Arrison would not commit to any plans to shorten this year's route, he said the Hot Springs community is proud of what the local parade has become.

"We're very proud of the parade that's been built here over the last 21 years," he said. "So we're going to have to do a little more investigating, but I'm pretty confident that our 98 feet is the shortest working street. I think it's a pretender."

Gary Speed, the attorney who filed the trademark paperwork for Visit Hot Springs and The World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, said that while the name lays claim to it being the shortest, that does not necessarily mean it is the case.

"A trademark is generally a symbol that designates the source or origin of goods or services," he said, noting the name has been trademarked since 2020. "It's like a brand on a cow. You know who owns the cow by what the brand is. It's the same idea, and it doesn't prove anything. It doesn't prove that it's actually the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade."

In fact, Speed said the trademark office initially refused the request because it was "descriptive," but since it had been used consistently since 2003, the request was eventually granted.

"You can't get a trademark on words that are merely descriptive of the goods or services they refer to," he said. "You can get around that by what's called acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning. ... If you continuously use a mark that would otherwise be descriptive for a period of five years or more prior to filing the trademark application, then it's deemed to have acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning."

Kinnane said that while the Adamsville parade does not have the lengthy history of Hot Springs' parade, he has been pleased with what has been accomplished through it. Funds raised through a corned beef dinner, concert and merchandise goes to a local food bank.

"The first year, we only had -- it was a very small number of people, but we were able to raise $5,000, which coming from a small town, I think it was the largest donation they had received at the food bank," he said.

"And that all came from the community. And then last year, we were able to double that. We did $10,000. Just from the excitement here that we're getting from our all the messages and comments and obviously, the stories about the rivalry, we're expecting to double it again this year at least."

This year's parade in Adamsville will also benefit food banks in the neighboring communities of Tiverton, R.I., and Westport and Fall River, Mass.

Cedric Maxwell, who played eight seasons with the Boston Celtics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, will be the guest of honor for this year's parade with local teachers Diane and David MacGregor serving as grand marshals.

Kinnane said he expects the crowd to continue to grow this year with the additional publicity.

"The first one we just kind of did for fun, not even thinking we really do it again, but I think people enjoyed it so much we did it again," he said with a laugh. "And we didn't really advertise. It was one article in the local paper here, the Sakonnet Times, and we posted one post on Facebook, and there were 1,000 people showed up. And so this year now, with the rivalry that Steve has started calling us out, we're expecting a lot more."

Arrison said he was surprised by Kinnane's "spirited response" to the release issued over the weekend.

"I have to admit, I did laugh pretty hard when I saw their response to our tongue-in-cheek [news] release," he said. "But you know, I think the world knows that we have the shortest St. Patrick's Day parade, so we're really not worried about that. We're just really happy to see another community celebrating what we think is one of the best days in the year."

  photo  A participant in the World's Shortest St. Paddy's Day Parade in Adamsville, Rhode Island, hands a coin to a child watching the parade on March 17, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Sakonnet Times)

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