HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Ark. (News release) — The 17th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade is coming, but this year is for the birds.
Fredbird, that is.
The official mascot of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals will be a featured attraction of the globally famous little 98-foot parade on March 17, 2020, on Bridge Street in downtown Hot Springs.
“We are delighted that Fredbird will be firing up the crowd at the 17th Annual Parade,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and one of the founders of the parade, which has brought international attention to Hot Springs for 16 years now. “It’s really fitting that Fredbird will be joining us, since Hot Springs is recognized worldwide as The Birthplace of Major League Baseball Spring Training and because the Cards have been the unofficial ‘home team’ for Arkansans for generations.”
“We had the San Diego Chicken one year,” Arrison said, “but Fredbird is special. Most people don’t think of chickens as birds, and Saint Louis is closer to our hearts than San Diego.”
Fredbird is described by his official biographers as “an anthropomorphic cardinal wearing the team’s uniform. His name is derived from ‘Redbird,’ a synonym for the cardinal bird and for the Cardinals themselves.”
Fredbird was introduced in April 6, 1979, by the Cardinals, then owned by Anheuser-Busch, to entertain younger fans at the games.
He quickly became popular with fans for his dancing, habit of “beaking” the heads of supporters, and for throwing T-shirts into the stands. He can also be seen rallying the crowd regularly during pregame on-field ceremonies, and, occasionally, he finds time to sit behind (or on top of) the dugout to get the crowd going.
After every Cardinal home victory, Fredbird takes a flag with the team’s logo onto the field and waves it around. He is one of baseball’s best-known mascots, and he makes hundreds of appearances year-round.
Fredbird will join Cheech Marin, half of the legendary comedy team Cheech and Chong, as the grand marshal of the First Ever 17th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and movie legend Danny Trejo, the star of the “Machete” series, who will be the parade’s official starter.
Cheech is a paradox in the world of entertainment: he is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector and humanitarian, as well as a cultural icon. Six of the Cheech & Chong albums went gold, four were nominated for Grammys, and “Los Cochinos” won the 1973 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording.
Free public concerts will be held on the evenings of March 16 and March 17 at the parade stage at Bridge Street and Broadway. Blues Traveler will perform March 16 and Foghat will perform March 17 immediately after the parade, which begins at 6:30 p.m.
The parade, which began in 2003, annually attracts upwards of 30,000 people to the city’s historic downtown district. The parade is immensely popular, with its insanely zany collection of marchers, strutters, dancers, waddlers and floats that cover the 98-foot length of Bridge Street in the heart of downtown Hot Springs.