Governments' Lighter Side

Pint-sized park causes international dispute

It likely won’t lead to another American Revolution, but U.S. citizenry is once again battling a land war with Britain – this time over a tiny, two-foot park in Portland.

The Guinness Book of World Records designated Portland’s Mill Ends Park, a postage stamp-sized city greenspace, the world’s smallest in 1971, the Associated Press reports; however, a British sports management company is now questioning - albeit lightheartedly - if Portland’s tiny park is really a park at all.

The story of Mill Ends Park begins in 1948 when Dick Fagan returned from World War II to resume his career as a journalist with the Oregon Journal. From his office, Fagan could see an unused, weed-choked hole in the Naito Parkway median where a light pole should have been placed. According to the Portland Parks & Recreation website, Fagan, feeling it was his civic duty to help beautify the city, cleared out the weeds and planted flowers in their place.

Fagan went on to write various columns for the paper regarding the imagined events that took place in his park – from snail races to fanciful accounts of a leprechaun colony he claimed had taken up residency there.

Officially recognized as a city park on March 17, 1976, the tiny park has been the site of St. Patty’s festivities ever since.

But not all is well in Mill Ends. The AP reports that KV Events, a British company promoting the “world’s shortest fun run” around the perimeter of the UK’s smallest park, caught wind of the American record. As the Guiness record means the fun run would not be the world’s shortest - only the U.K.’s - KV Events sought to discredit Mill Ends, referring to the diminutive park as “nothing but a glorified flower pot” on LichfieldLive.co.uk.

Mark Ross, spokesman for the Portland Parks & Recreation department came to his park’s defense, writing off the criticism as injured pride. "We Americans have a pretty good track record when it comes to taking on the Brits. Perhaps they're still smarting over that whole American Revolution thing," he told the AP.

Although Kevin Wilson, one of KV Events' race promoters, told the AP he has no intention of contacting Guinness to have Mill Ends' record removed, a defensive perimeter fence has appeared around the Portland park, along with a bazooka-toting toy soldier, just in case.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Rick (not verified)
on Apr 24, 2013

Let the battle begin. Fire ants on june bugs using straight pins as lances. (That's straight as opposed to curved)

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What's Governments' Lighter Side?

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Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...
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