Enjoying second best

When you’re number two you just don’t give a damn

Alas fair giant dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant in downtown Beaumont, Texas, I hardly knew you as the world’s largest. Today you are second largest. But you are the only giant dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant in town, so that makes you our giant dalmatian-spotted fire hydrant.

I really have a great appreciation for the big hydrant. Of course, I was a firefighter back in my college days. But I also appreciate the whimsy that such a structure inspires. I don’t even mind that it’s only the world’s second-largest fire hydrant.

Beaumont became home to what was the world’s largest hydrant in 1999 when Disney re-released “101 Dalmatians.” Disney had the hydrant shipped to Beaumont where it was placed in front of the Fire Museum of Texas. Roadside America , those chroniclers of all civic bigness in this land, describes the festivities the day the hydrant was dedicated:

“The fire museum marching band kicked off with the movie’s signature song, “Cruella De Vil,” while 101 Texas firefighters danced around the hydrant, climaxing as it sprayed firefighters with water and confetti. They shielded themselves with Dalmatian-spotted umbrellas. Then the firefighter families headed off to a complimentary screening of the film.”

The 24-foot hydrant’s reign as the world’s largest came to an end in 2001 when a 29 1/2-foot hydrant was built in Elm Creek, Manitoba. Damn Canadians! But it is okay with me to have the second-largest in the world, at least for now. In the meantime I will be thinking about how we might elevate the hydrant another six feet so it can rightfully reclaim its title as world’s largest. I just hope the folks who built the world’s tallest building in Taipei don’t decide to erect a hydrant to beat the Canadians. That could set off a full-scale hydrant race and I don’t think anyone wants that.

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