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Portland Parks and Recreation

11 Fun Facts About Mill Ends Park, Portland’s Leprechaun Colony

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Portland Parks and Recreation

“Ireland” may be the most popular first answer given when someone is asked about where leprechauns live, but Portland, Oregon, has its very own population of little green-clad Irishmen, too. And they’ve even got a dedicated area—Mill Ends Park—to prove it. Here are 11 fun facts about what has been described as “the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.” 

1. THE PARK IS THE CREATION OF JOURNALIST DICK FAGAN.

Upon his return home from World War II in 1946, Dick Fagan went back to work as a journalist with the Oregon Journal, with a second-floor office overlooking what is now known as Naito Parkway. Amidst all the traffic and hustling that took place outside of his window, Fagan became fascinated with one element of his view: a tiny hole that had been placed in the median for a light pole. 

2. THE LIGHT POLE NEVER MATERIALIZED.

Fagan watched as weeds began to fill in the spot where the light pole was meant to be placed. But he wasn’t happy with that either, and so he planted some flowers there. 

3. FROM THERE, FAGAN’S IMAGINATION ONLY GREW.

Making that tiny hole in the ground pretty was only the beginning of the attention Fagan began lavishing upon the space. In his Oregon Journal column, “Mill Ends”—which, like the irregular pieces of leftover lumber it was named for, shared interesting little stories— he often referenced the leprechauns who lived in the park. 

4. THE HEAD LEPRECHAUN’S NAME WAS PATRICK O’TOOLE.

Fagan, conveniently, was the only person who could see Patrick O'Toole, the leader of the leprechaun community. He also apparently spoke to him: When the mayor of Portland proposed an 11:00 p.m. curfew on all city parks, Fagan published a response from O’Toole, who threatened a leprechaun curse upon the mayor. (The leprechauns were subsequently allowed to stay.)

5. MILL ENDS PARK WAS DEDICATED IN 1948.

Due to Fagan’s Irish heritage, and the leprechauns who purportedly inhabited the park, Mills Ends Park became dedicated as such, quite appropriately, on March 17, 1948. 

6. IN 1976, IT BECAME AN OFFICIAL CITY PARK.

Twenty-eight years after its dedication, Mill Ends Park became an official city park in 1976, again on St. Patrick’s Day. Each year, various holiday-themed events take place on the site.

7. IT IS THE WORLD’S SMALLEST PARK.

Mill Ends Park measures just two square feet. Which seems an adequate size for what Fagan was fond of describing as the “only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.” Guinness World Records has recognized it since 1971.

8. FAGAN ISN’T THE PARK’S ONLY FAN.

The park has become something of a must-see oddity in Portland, and many residents and visitors have made their own contributions to its growth (at least culturally speaking). A tiny swimming pool (with a butterfly diving board), statues, and a pint-sized Ferris wheel—which was delivered by a normal-sized crane—are just a few of its amenities.

9. THE PARK HAD TO BE MOVED IN 2006.

In order to accommodate construction on Naito Parkway in 2006, the park had to be moved temporarily. It moved back in on March 16, 2007—the day before St. Patrick’s Day—with bagpipers playing and Fagan’s wife looking on (Fagan passed away in 1969).

10. A MAN WAS ARRESTED FOR PROTESTING AT THE PARK.

In December 2011, the Occupy Portland movement installed a flash mob of plastic army men and tiny signs at the park to illustrate their mission. One of the demonstrators, Cameron Scott Whitten, was arrested when he refused to leave.

11. THE PARK WAS ROBBED IN 2013.

A week before St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, someone stole the park’s one and only tree … only to return it one week later. 

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App Gives Older People More Time to Cross the Street
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Crosswalk signals don’t take into account how quickly different kinds of pedestrians can walk across the street. But maybe they should. A new app currently being tested in the Netherlands allows older people to hold traffic for longer, allowing them more time to cross the street, according to The Guardian.

The Crosswalk app, made by the Dutch transportation technology company Dynniq, alerts traffic signals that someone with mobility issues is waiting. Using GPS and the software that runs the traffic signals, the technology helps traffic signals detect if someone using the app is standing on the corner. If so, the traffic signal’s timing will adjust accordingly.

The app has four settings so that people can adjust how much extra time they’re given, based on their individual needs. That way, someone who only needs a few extra seconds doesn’t leave traffic waiting forever while they’re already on the sidewalk.

The issue with creating a mobile app for older people, though, is that many of them might not be comfortable with smartphones. After advertising in the local paper and holding informational meetings, Dynniq was only able to recruit 10 people to test the app.

Still, there are other possible applications for signal-changing technology. It could be used more generally for people with disabilities or to increase safety during situations like when groups of schoolchildren need to cross the street. It could also be expanded to traffic itself, to create lights that are better timed for bikes (so that cyclists don’t have to start and stop every block) or to create green lights for emergency service vehicles.

Right now, the app is being tested in Tilburg, a city of about 210,000 people, but it's only in use in some areas of town. The current test will run into the fall. If it proves successful, the city will equip more traffic signals with Crosswalk in the future.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Animals
Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival
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There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]

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