The joy and magic “Shorty Hatfield” sprinkles all over Silver Dollar City is no tall tale.
The truth is, the Heart and Soul of our tallest Citizen goes beyond the confines of his seven-foot frame. He’s brought laughter to countless guests over his 27 years in the Street Troupe, but he also boasts a serious love of his community and its kids.
This holiday season marks the 11th year for “Stockings From Christ,” a ministry his wife Toni started when funding for her mission trip fell through.
“We realized there was a mission field right here on the home front,” he says. “You don’t have to travel far away to help those in need.”
This year, the couple will stuff stockings for more than 300 local children and personally deliver them on Christmas Eve with help from their friends at Faith and Wisdom Church in Branson.
“We’ve gone to homes with dirt floors and houses with ceilings caved in,” he says. “A lot of folks don’t realize how great the needs are in our community.”
By Brandei Clifton
December 12, 2023
Toni and Shorty’s kids even pitch in to help spread Christmas cheer to children their age.
“I love when they get excited to pick out little toys for a child,” he smiles. “As we stuff the stockings, we talk about the importance of giving to others. It reminds us of how blessed we are.”
Shorty says he’s definitely blessed. Growing up in Oklahoma, he and his family would travel on weekends to Silver Dollar City. They came a lot.
“It didn’t take long for people at the park to start recognizing me,” he laughs. “They’d say ‘Here comes that tall kid!’”
He was –indeed – a tall kid, growing about three inches a year.
“We’d be watching the Saloon Show and the cast would do a fun bit with me in the audience and say I was their tall brother,” he recalls. “It’s almost like I worked at The City before I even worked at The City.”
The back-and-forth banter at the Saloon through the years inspired Shorty to actually work at the park when he was older. He was hired to help with crowd control as a member of the Street Troupe during the spring festival. The plan was for him to then help children play games on Town Square when summer rolled around.
“I loved working with the Street Troupe and they never moved me over during the summer,” he smiles. “I had found my niche.”
Shorty had definitely found his fit. Although he never had a single acting lesson, he was a crowd-pleaser in the street.
“You’ve always got to be on,” he grins. “You are down with the audience giving them a one-on-one show. It’s an absolute blast. Unlike stage shows where the performer leaves when it’s over, the Street Troupe keeps walking around. We really get to know folks and see the same faces year after year.”
And, day after day, he gets asked how tall he is at least 50 times. His size is such a topic of conversation, he’s learned that guests even use him as a growth chart for their children.
“It’s the best thing ever when families show pictures of me posing with their kids through the years and you can see how tall they’ve gotten standing next to me. It’s a real honor to be part of their vacation memories.”
He also says it’s a blessing to work for a company that isn’t afraid to have Christian values at the heart and soul of its success. Faith is a strong backbone for Shorty’s family, but he admits he didn’t always live for the Lord. That all changed in 2009 when he took a tumble off a tall ladder.
“I fell 30 feet and landed on my head,” he recalls. “I fractured my skull and needed 21 stitches. While I was in the hospital, I found out how powerful prayer can be. The City’s Southern Gospel Picnic was going on and the host of a show at Echo Hollow Theater asked all 5,000 people in the crowd to pray for me. Three days later, I had a full doctor’s release and was back to work!”
His outlook on life had changed and his faith was firmed. A year later, things just kept getting better. It was good to be Shorty Hatfield.
“I met the woman who would become my wife,” he gushes. “Funny thing is, she was in the Street Troupe and played Tammy Margaret McCoy! We were a real-life Hatfield and McCoy love story!”
When Shorty marked his 25th year at The City, his commemorative sign on the park celebrated that sweet union between “feuding families.” The pair will celebrate ten years of marriage this May and are proud parents to three children.
Shorty will return to his Hatfield character this Spring. For now, you can catch him leading the parade as our Tall Toy Solider, a role he’s played for 22 Christmas seasons. You might also recognize his booming voice as the talking tree in Tinker Junior’s Toy Shop.
“Isn’t every day such an adventure?” he laughs. “I still come to work and marvel at the memories I’ve made and the memories still out there to make! I’m a happy, fulfilled and very blessed man.”