Two Longtime Public Servants to Serve as King, Queen Of 1st Ever 20th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade

HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Two longtime Hot Springs public servants — retired Circuit Judge John Homer Wright and Minnie Lenox, human resources director for the City of Hot Springs — will serve as king and queen of the First Ever 20th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17.

“We couldn’t have chosen two more dedicated people to be the royal couple for this landmark edition of our world-famous little parade,” Visit Hot Springs CEO Steve Arrison said. “Judge Wright and Ms. Lenox have served the people of Hot Springs for decades, and now will be recognized as they preside over our parade. What a pair.”

Judge Wright said he first attended the parade as a spectator in 2004, the second year the parade was held on World Famous 98-foot Bridge Street, the World’s Shortest Street in Everyday Use.

“My favorite memory involving the parade is reconnecting with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, which is actually a compilation of memories from several parades,” Wright said. “I never fail to see someone who I haven’t seen in a long time and have a quick catchup.”

He said he was born in Hot Springs 72 years ago, graduated from Hot Springs High School then attended Hendrix College. After graduating from law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville he set up private law practice in Hot Springs in 1975.

“I was elected municipal judge in 1985 and circuit judge in 1998,” he said. “I retired in 2020. Now, I enjoy tennis and pickle ball, traveling to new destinations and working in my yard.”

Wright said he has been married to his wife, Karen, for 30 years. They have two adult daughters — Susannah, who works as an educational tutor, and Mary, who is the law clerk for Judge Tim Fox in Little Rock. He has two brothers, Bill who lives in Hot Springs, and Jack, who lives in Cave Springs.

Wright said Karen would ride with him in the parade “if she agrees to be seen with me.”

For decades, Wright has helped organize the annual Christmas For Kids, which provides Christmas for hundreds of Garland County children.

“Christmas For Kids was started by my predecessor at Municipal Court, Judge Earl Mazander,” he said. “I first became involved in 1979. I took it over when I became municipal judge in 1985, but this has been a true community effort.

“The event was being held in what is now the Board of Directors chambers at City Hall and I think we moved the event across the street at the invitation of the Civic Center in 1987 and adopted the name of Christmas For Kids. In 1979 we served about 30 children. In 2019, we served 759. The Convention Center, Turf Catering and the community as a whole have adopted this project and been responsible for this growth. It has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever been involved with.”

Asked if he has any Irish ancestry or Irish connection, Wright replied, “I am unsure of Irish ancestry but, being redheaded, I would have to assume some connection.”

As for any words of wisdom for his parade subjects, he said, “We are all in this together.”

Parade Queen Minnie Lenox will retire this year after serving for 18 years as human resources director for the City of Hot Springs.

She attended the first parade as a spectator in 2003, she said, “and I’ve attended every one since then.”

Her most memorable parade “was the one when [the late] Dick Antoine [who served for years as the parade’s World’s Tallest Leprechaun] spent time with the children along the parade route. I had some children down there, and they thought that he was the coolest person in the parade.”

Lenox said she has lived in Hot Springs since her birth in 1951.

“I have worked in the Hot Springs School District as a teachers’ aide, and worked for the Chamber of Commerce for five years,” she said. “I’ve worked for the City of Hot Springs since 1982.”

Lenox said she wants her family to walk with her as she presides as queen of the 20th annual parade. “They want to do a float,” she said.

Asked whether she knows of any Irish ancestry or any family Irish connections, Lenox joked, “Who knows?”

In response to being asked whether she has any words of wisdom for her subjects, she said, “Live your life with no regrets. Enjoy the journey and make a difference.”

Already announced for the Friday night First Ever 20th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17 are country music star Justin Moore as celebrity grand marshal, film star Chris McDonald (Shooter McGavin in “Happy Gilmore”) as official starter, the PAW Patrol TV characters especially for the kids, and crowd favorites The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Kilties, an all-female Scottish-themed drum and bugle corps from Central High School in Springfield, Mo. There will be a free public concert immediately after the parade by the well-known cover band, The Molly Ringwalds.

On Saturday, March 18, the day after the parade, there will be the second running of The Zero-K World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Footrace, followed by a free public concert by the iconic Village People band.

The world-famous 98-foot parade on Bridge Street, the shortest street in the world in everyday use, began in 2003 and annually attracts crowds of upwards of 30,000 people to watch an insanely zany collection of Irish Elvis impersonators, 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 in the heart of downtown Hot Springs.

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