The Portland Leprechauns and the toy horse brigade.
Image Credit: Piddix

While walking around Portland, you might see metal rings on the sidewalk. These rings are a remnant of a time before cars, when horses were a major form of transportation. The rings were used to tether horses and horse drawn carriages to the side of the road as their owners frequented shops, homes, and the like. While these rings are now obsolete, the city of Portland has a law stating the rings must be replaced if removed. There’s really no reason, other than aesthetics, that this law came into existence. Still – this law saved the Portland leprechauns from a terrible fate!

In 2004, a mite that specifically liked the blood of leprechauns came to Portland. No one knows where or how the mites found Portland. Some say they laid in a dormant stage in the sewers, and awoke because of the big pipe project. Some say they instinctively came to Portland, as Portland is the home to the only leprechaun colony west of Ireland. Regardless, the leprechaun hungry mites found themselves a smorgasborge in Portland.

Now by this time, the leprechauns had migrated all over the city and are not just in Mill End Park anymore (although they hold Mill End Park as a sacred space in their culture). When the mites invaded, the leprechauns thought they could contain the invaders. After all, the leprechauns were tough and resilient. They fought off other mites, insects, and even rodents with ease. They’ve had a habit of evicting ants out of the ant’s own colonies when it served their purpose. But by the beginning of 2005, the leprechauns realized this mite couldn’t be tamed by willpower and strength alone. The leprechauns had a major crisis on their hands.

The leprechauns tried everything they could to avert the mites! They broke into stores all over Portland, stealing different chemicals and pest control agents. None of these worked – the mites still persisted. The situation was getting desperate, as nearly ten percent of the leprechauns had been injured (or worse) by the mites. At one point – being Portland leprechauns, they even broke into a New Seasons and stole some natural pest controls. Hoping that perhaps the natural way would help – but no help was to be had. The mites persisted on attacking and infesting the leprechauns.

Of course, they reached out to their fellow leprechauns in Ireland. Maybe they had a solution. It had been years since the Portland colony had talked to the homelands – they didn’t really get along. Still – maybe the leprechauns in Ireland had faced this very solution. Maybe they had a solution. Again – this was to no avail. The Irish lreprecahans had never heard of such creatures – and even threatened the Portland leprechauns if they came near Ireland for fear of bringing the mites with them.

Plans were made to vacate the city – it was their only choice of action. But where would they go? Even if the leprechauns found a new home, would the mites follow them? Would evacuation just delay the inevitable? Nevertheless, to run was their only shot at survival. These were desperate times for the Portland leprechauns.

The night before the leprechauns were to leave, they all gathered in Mill End Park one last time. It was a sacred ceremony, though the details are unknown outside their population. See, the leprechauns were very secretive of their traditions and customs. However – a couple things is known about that event despite their secrecy.

The first thing known – the mites found the leprechauns at Mill End Park. This furthered the belief that the mites instinctively found the leprechauns and would follow wherever the leprechauns went.

The second thing known: a human dropped a toy horse while crossing Naito Parkway. The horse landed right into a mess of mites. The mites scattered away, almost as though they were in fear! Something about the horse scared them. This was information the leprechauns could use, but how?

While relations between the humans and Leprechauns of Portland have always been secretive and minimal at best, there was some line of communication between the Leprechaun elders and the city government. The next day, the Leprechauns elders approached city council and told of their plight, but also their findings. The Portland leprechauns, despite their pride, begged for help. City council felt compassion, and said they would find a way to deploy hundreds of tiny horses all over the city – maybe this could scare away the mites once and for all.

It was then decided that everywhere a leprechaun lived would have a tiny horse. But how to keep them in place? What will keep some kid from wandering off with a new toy? Well – that was, to the leprechauns, an easy solution. You see – as sort of a sport, the leprechauns liked to lift the horse rings. It was kind of a strong man competition. So the leprechauns suggested the horses be secured to these rings. The city council agreed, and by the year end, hundreds, or maybe thousands of toy horses of all shapes, and color found their way on Portland streets.

The plan worked! The mites, for whatever reason, did not like the horses. Maybe they were scared, maybe they didn’t like the smell of plastic. The leprechauns still won’t tell us what they actually know (we suspect they know a lot more). Regardless – the mites left Portland, and they have not been a problem since June of 2006.

Many of the toy horses are gone now – but some still remain. So if you see one of these toy horses, let it be. It might just be guarding a nearby leprechaun.