PORTLAND -- A day after a town in England challenged Portland's honor of having the world's smallest park, some locals seem to have stepped up to protect the city's tiny treasure.
The legacy of Mill Ends Park started back in 1941 when it was originally designed for a light pole. But that light never went in, and it became a green space instead. The park was officially dedicated on St. Patrick's Day in 1948 when creator Dick Fagan described it as "the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland."
Leprechaun or not, the park does have a tiny soldier protecting it now. It also has a new fence, a pig and a lamb. The plastic creatures all appeared Tuesday, the day after news surfaced that a city in the UK was challenging the Portland park's ranking in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Brits said Mill Ends Park was nothing but a "glorified flower pot," according to a report on Lichfieldlive.
“Since then, the park seems to have enjoyed some... er, let's call it ‘volunteer stewardship,’” said Mark Ross with Portland Parks and Recreation, including “an intimidating armed guard.”
Portlander April Hasson admitted that at least some of the upgrades were her handiwork. She said she decided to "decorate" the park "to defend our country's honor - sort of."
"My friends and I like good-natured pranks and so we decided to add some fencing and a bench and the toilet," she explained. "I have a British friend living in my basement. I love the UK, but we have the worlds smallest park!"
Mill Ends Park is two feet in diameter, made up of just a small patch of grass, a few plants and one tree. It earned the Guinness title of World's Smallest Park in 2007 and has not been knocked off the pedestal since.