Mill Ends Park in Portland, the United States, is only two feet in diameter and is really just a flower pot, but don’t say that aloud, especially in front of Portlandians. Since the last 40-odd years, the locals have been celebrating this tiny hole of earth as the world’s smallest park, and they have a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records to prove.
The site that would become the Mill Ends Park was originally scheduled for a light pole. When the pole failed to appear and weeds sprouted in the opening, Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, decided to take matters into his own hands and planted flowers in the hole. Fagan's office in the Journal building overlooked the median in the middle of the busy thoroughfare that ran in front of the building.
Fagan wrote a popular column called Mill Ends (the rough, irregular pieces of lumber left over at lumber mills), and he started using this column to describe the park and the various "events" that occurred there. It was Fagan who started calling the space as the "World's Smallest Park." The park was dedicated, two years later, on St. Patrick's Day in 1948.
Fagan continued to write whimsical stories about the park and the lives of its alleged residents – fairies called leprechaun, that he claimed only he can see. He told a story about how he looked out the window and spotted 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 had not specified the size of the park in his wish, the leprechaun gave him the hole. Fagan even named the head leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.
Fagan died of cancer in 1969, but the park lives on, cared for by others. Mill Ends officially became a city park on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, and the park continues to be the site of St. Patrick's Day festivities.
Over the years, contributions have been made to the park, such as the small swimming pool and diving board for butterflies, many statues, a miniature Ferris wheel, which was brought in by a normal-sized crane, and the occasional flying saucer. The events held here include concerts by Clan Macleay Pipe Band, picnics, and rose plantings by the Junior Rose Festival Court. During the December 2011 Occupy Portland event, a couple of plastic army men figures and small signs were placed in Mill Ends as a tongue-in-cheek flash mob demonstration.
Occupy Mill Ends Park in Portland. Photo credit
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