Odd Paris, Texas

There are fifteen American municipalities named “Paris,” and most of them have erected an Eiffel Tower replica. Paris, Texas commemorated their Eiffel Tower in 1993. Coincidentally, Paris, Tennessee also commemorated theirs that same year. Unfortunately for them, their 60-ft tall tower had no bragging rights attached as the Texas Eiffel Tower came in at 65-ft tall. Not willing to just let it go, Tennessee soon replaced their tower with a 70-ft version and joyfully let the Texas clan know that despite Paris, Texas being the 2nd largest Paris in the world as well as the inspiration for the title of the hit 1984 movie “Paris, Texas,” they now were the site of the 2nd largest replica tower and therefore inferior to Paris, Tennessee.

No self-respecting Texan could not respond to such an affront, but boosters knew their rather small town could not afford to build a series of slightly bigger towers. So, being ever resourceful Texans, in 1998 they added a large red cowboy hat to the top of the tower. Placed on a pole on top of the tower, the hat added just enough height to officially be taller than the Tennessee entry. The hat, 4 ½-feet-tall and 10-feet wide, was then tilted to gain a few extra feet. With a friendly missive which basically said, “In your face!” Paris, Texas declared itself to be the location of the world’s tallest Eiffel Tower replica.

Any further one-upmanship was short-circuited the very next year when Las Vegas erected a 540-ft. tall Eiffel Tower Replica along the Strip. At half the height of the original (which is 984 ft. tall), this replica effectively put a stop to any future challenges. But Paris, Texas can still lay claim to being the location of the world’s only Eiffel Tower with a cowboy hat!

Fire-breathing dragon?
Paris is also home to the rather well-known, at least in Texas, Paris Junior College. While being respected for high-quality academics, the athletic accomplishments of the school have been rather successful with several national junior college championships in basketball and baseball. This success has come about in spite of what may be the absolute least-fearsome-depicted mascot in all the land –Pyro the Dragon. I know, dragons are usually thought to be fire-breathing monsters and therefore an excellent mascot that will no doubt instill fear in all unfortunate opponents. But Pyro? “Lovable doofus” comes to mind much more readily than a fire-breathing monster. Take a look and decide for yourself.

I visited Paris in early December, 2011, on an overcast, cold day with intermittent rain showers and a threatening storm. I found that unlike the bleak, dry, desert landscape depicted in the 1984 movie, the real Paris, Texas is located along the edge of the East Texas forest with gently rolling farm land far away from any desert. The town and the friendly people have a number of interesting items to see and things to do. A couple of days in one of the local B&B establishments with drives around town to see the sites and a good book to curl up with at night might be just what the doctor ordered if you need to unwind and take a break.

Enjoy the little things. One day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.