Hudnell and Mertz-Hatley to Reign Over St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Lance Hudnell and Cherri Mertz-Hatley will reign over America’s zaniest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs on March 17.

Hudnell, who is Hot Springs’ city manager, and Mertz, who serves on the administrative staff of the counselors at Hot Springs High School, have been selected as king and queen of the First Ever Ninth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which is held on the 98-foot Bridge Street in the heart of historic downtown Hot Springs.

“Lance and Cherri are perfect choices to reign over this fun-loving event,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. “They both have serious and important roles in the life of our city, but both appreciate the playfulness on which the parade was founded nine years ago.”

Hudnell has served as Hot Springs’ city manager since 2009 and has been a leader at City Hall since 1977. He has been administrative assistant to the mayor, deputy city manager and city clerk. He has served on the Arkansas Municipal League’s Public Safety Council and is now on the Municipal League’s Executive Committee.

He and his family are active in Hot Springs Baptist Church and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his wife, Daris, are the parents of two grown children and the grandparents of twin grandchildren born in 2006.

Mertz-Hatley, who is married to Gerald Hatley, recently completed serving as president of the Hot Springs Women’s Chamber of Commerce and has worked with Project Backpack, the Hot Springs Boys and Girls Club, Relay for Life, ABBA food pantry and Habitat for Humanity, among numerous other community causes.

She was the 2007 Women’s Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year and 2010 Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year.

The celebrity grand marshal for this year’s parade will be Tim Matheson, the acclaimed movie and television star who shot to fame playing Otter in the classic comedy, Animal House.” The classic-rock band .38 Special will provide the music for a free street dance immediately following the parade.

For information about this year’s parade, entry forms for participating in the parade, schedules and so forth, contact Leysa Lowery at 501-321-2027 or visit