Is Mill Ends really the world's smallest park? Brits take issue

Is Mill Ends really the world's smallest park? Brits take issue »Play Video
Traffic moves past Mills End Park, the world's smallest park, where a new tree was planted to replace the one stolen last week, Thursday, March 7, 2013 in Portland, Ore. The Douglas Fir was planted Wednesday to replace the lone tree that someone stole last week. The 2-foot-diameter park, which lies in a median strip in downtown Portland near the Willamette River, was established by newspaper columnist Dick Fagan in the 1940s and became an official city park in 1976. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Mill Ends Park, as most Portlanders know, has a famous distinction: The Guinness Book of World Records calls it the “world’s smallest park.”

Now, some folks on the opposite side of the world are taking issue with that distinction. A United Kingdom official is challenging that title, calling Mill Ends a “glorified flower pot.”

The town of Burntwood, Staffordshire in England believes its own park, Princes Park, should hold the title. It’s larger, but Brits say the plot of land better fits the definition of a real park.

We spoke to British journalist Ross Hawkes via Skype on Tuesday. He said it’s an issue of technicalities.

“You can claim things that aren’t true,” Hawkes said. “We think that a park should be a park. If not, where do we draw the line? Is it a case of who can plant the smallest single individual plant?”

Hawkes said Princes Park has a bench and that Brits can enjoy the park, unlike Mill Ends.

The Brits’ allegations have ruffled some feathers at the Portland Parks Bureau.

“Flower pots don’t have people coming – a whole plaque of information. It doesn’t have a 70-year history. Fifty-nine flower pots don’t have visitors who deliberately come to sit next to it. And flower pots don’t have leprechauns. Sorry cheerio,” said Mark Ross, spokesman for the Portland Parks Bureau.

The leprechaun reference relates to when Mill Ends was dedicated on a St. Patrick’s Day as the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.

It’s unclear how far the town of Burntwood will take this challenge against our world’s smallest park. But a town councilman has said he supports asking Guiness to look into it.