Saturday, March 17, 2012

Leprechauns in Oregon!

Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, here's something completely different (with apologies to Monty Python). In Portland, Oregon, there is a city park that is considered the smallest in the world. Measuring just two feet across, the park was dedicated on St. Patrick's Day in 1948. In 1946, Dick Fagan had just returned from World War II and from his office above Front Street could see an unused hole in the median. Originally intended for a light pole, the hole had been taken over by weeds. So, Fagan decided to plant some flowers in the hole. Not just a good citizen, Fagan (right) happened to write a popular newspaper column in the Oregon Journal called Mill Ends, and he used his column to describe the "park" and all of the curious events that took place there, including the lives of a colony of leprechauns headed by chief leprechaun Patrick O'Toole (oddly, the leprechauns could only be seen by Fagan). According to him, the whole thing started Fagan looked out the window one day and saw a leprechaun digging in the hole. He ran down and grabbed the leprechaun, which meant that he had earned a wish. Fagan wished for a park of his own, but since he failed to specify the size of the park, the leprechaun gave him the hole. The hole was officially designated Mill Ends Park by the City of Portland. Dick Fagan died in 1969, but over the years the park has been maintained and improvements have even been made, including a small swimming pool with a diving board for butterflies, statues and a tiny Ferris wheel. In 2006, the park had to be relocated due to construction (by 7 feet) but was replaced in 2007. The re-dedication ceremonies (also on St. Patrick's Day) included bagpipers and members of the Fagan family, including Dick's widow Katherine.

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