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Making a claim for the 'World's Shortest Parade' on St. Patrick's Day

Lots of places, including Niagara Falls and Lackawanna, claim to put on the "World's Shortest Parade" for St. Patrick's Day.

Lackawanna and Niagara Falls offered their versions of this annual minute march Friday. Other paltry processions happen across the United States and in Ireland.

Some of these slight spectacles are measured in paces. Others by the number of city blocks.

In Hot Springs, Ark., where their parade route is only 98 feet long, they really go all out. The Hot Springs event's website address even promotes its claim:

At this year's event there, actor Alfonso Ribeiro is the grand marshal and wrestler Ric Flair is the official parade starter. Last year, they had Gary Busey and Kevin Bacon, and their celebrity list over the years has included Jim Belushi, Mario Lopez and Bo Derek.

And don't forget about Bemidji, Minn., Conklin, Mich., or St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Their routes are 180, 450 and 300 feet, respectively.

Parade distances at past events have ranged from 47 feet outside an Irish pub in the Bronx to a few hundred yards in the village of Oram in Ireland.

Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey M. Szymanski wears his green St. Patrick's Day hat after the "World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade" in Lackawanna, Friday, March 17, 2017. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Lackawanna's parade, which measures 98 steps long from Our Lady of Victory Basilica to Lackawanna City Hall, has been going on for 71 years, said co-chairman Mike Cusack.

If the average step is between 2.2 and 2.5 feet, according to the Arizona State University Extension, that puts Lackawanna's distance somewhere between 215 and 245 feet.

The parade follows Mass at the basilica, and an Irish flag is raised in front of City Hall to mark the parade end, Cusack said.

"Nobody has a parade that's over 70 years," he said. "That's why we're the longest and the shortest."

Neither Cusack or Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster could explain why their cities created short parades.

In Niagara Falls, the event is put on by the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and has been going on for more than 30 years. The parade in the Falls always happens on March 17, no matter what day of the week on which that date may fall, said Dyster.

In the Falls, where St. Patrick's Day is also the city's birthday, there's usually someone marching dressed as St. Patrick. The length of the current parade route – from the corner of Old Falls and First streets to the Convention Center Niagara Falls – is officially touted by organizers as being 75 steps long. That equates to about 165 to 188 feet.

Lackawanna's tradition may have been going on longer than the Falls', but that doesn't necessarily give that city a leg up in this friendly competition.

"But were they born on St. Patrick's Day?" Dyster said. "That's the question."

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