The story behind the World's Smallest Park is even more delightful than you'd expect.

Like any good dreamer, Dick Fagan spent time writing, listening, and staring out his office window, a detail which is important to this story.

More than 70 years ago, from his desk on the second floor at The Oregon Journal, Fagan noticed a small, round concrete traffic median on top of which a traffic signal would be installed. Construction eventually wrapped up on the median, but no light or traffic signal ever went in.

Soon, the bare space grew thick with weeds and neglect.


After watching the space go unattended, Fagan went down to the median himself, cleared the weeds and trash, and planted some flowers.

Mill Ends Park from above. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

He called it Mill Ends Park, after his popular newspaper column of the same name ("mill ends" are the odd, rough pieces of lumber often left over and discarded at mills).

On St. Patrick's Day in 1948, Fagan held a dedication ceremony and declared Mill Ends to be the World's Smallest Park.

Fagan, a proud Irishman, used his column to describe the "goings-on" at the tiny park, sharing whimsical tales of an active leprechaun colony led by head leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.

He continued writing about the park and its fantastical inhabitants until his death in 1969. Shortly before he died, the city held a rededication ceremony for Mill Ends, complete with city council members, a ribbon cutting, an Irish pipe band, and an Irish dance group.

A local group gifted Fagan a permanent cement enclosure for the park, complete with stadium turf and a handmade leprechaun statue. Fagan was too ill to attend the ceremony and passed away just a few weeks later.

Mill Ends Park lives on to this day and has even earned international recognition.

Since 1976, Mill Ends has been an official Portland city park.

At 452.16 square inches (about the size of a laundry basket) it holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the world’s smallest park.

Mill Ends Park in 2007. Photo by brx0/Flickr.

Though it was moved briefly for roadwork, Mill Ends Park still sits in the median at the intersection of what is now Naito Parkway and Taylor Street.

The city looks after it, replacing the small tree and plants as needed, just as it would any other public park.

Mill Ends Park in 2017. Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Tourists and locals alike are encouraged to visit.

Just keep an eye out for traffic.

Photo by Erin Canty/Upworthy.

Over the years, the park has seen improvements like a butterfly swimming pool, a tiny ferris wheel delivered via full-size crane, and even dinosaurs.

Last stop of the trip. Someone filled this tiny park with dinosaurs!

A post shared by TC Harrison (@tcorama) on

After all these years, it's still a great spot for the occasional picnic...

...or even a protest.

In 2011, the leprechauns  joined forces with demonstrators and hosted what is likely the smallest Occupy Portland event on record.

Mill Ends Park during Occupy Portland. Photos by Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons.

What began as Fagan's simple effort to beautify a forgotten space has now become a world-class (albeit odd) landmark.

Yes, it's one of the many things that "keeps Portland weird," but it's also a living tribute to ingenuity and creativity. Never doubt what one dreamer can do with a little potting soil and a lot of imagination.

Allison Wildman crouches low to get a photo. Photo by Don Ryan/AP.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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