FROM THE EDITOR:
Hello again, Hot Springs, If there’s a spring in your step and a lilt fills the air, it must be the time of year when the “greening” of the Spa City includes being Irish on Saturday, March 17, for the First Ever Ninth Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade via historic Bridge Street.
Celebrity guest marshal Tim Matheson, best known, perhaps, for his role as Otter in the 1978 comedy “Animal House,” will add his jovial personality to the big celebration that draws thousands to the downtown area.
But, it’s not just blarney to say that our community has a long, long list of March events and activities that are sure to please.
Excitement’s still on track during the 108th annual live thoroughbred racing season at Oaklawn Park, nature’s in bloom for the Tulip Extravaganza at Garvan Woodland Gardens, hard work and service projects highlight the 13th annual Environmental and Spatial Technology Conference, a national convention expected to bring about 2,000 attendees to Hot Springs Convention Center.
And some 6,000 archers, family members and spectators also have set their sights on this tourist destination for the Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program’s State Archery Tournament.
Add art exhibits, musical entertainment, hiking and biking, shopping, varied dining options, business meetings and seminars to the eclectic mix and you can see why Hot Springs continues to be the place to be and go see.
Sometimes, though, I don’t believe local denizens, especially in their youth, truly appreciated the fact that our town’s historic and interesting facets annually attracted travelers from across the region and around the country. After all, we could take in the amusements and soak up the atmosphere on a daily basis.
In that regard, I was helped immensely by the tutelage of two fairly sophisticated ladies, both keen observers of the human scene. My maternal grandmother, who lived on Quapaw Avenue, took me on walking tours of downtown, making certain we visited the shops, the banks, the eateries, the bath houses. My paternal “grand,” whose home was a duplex on Woodbine, drove me hither and yon to virtually every corner of the county and treated me to Saturday lunches and special occasion dinners in hotel dining rooms and quaint cafes.
They made sure I knew the names of the pioneers who turned a small settlement into a bustling trade center and then a popular locale that offered respite and soothing waters. They were proud to live in Hot Springs and instilled that feeling in me.
No matter how far the journey, no matter how long the time, the heart always finds its way home.
Welcome, visitors. Enjoy your stay. And do return soon.
Melinda B. Gassaway Executive editor