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Budweiser Clydesdales draw crowd in west Annapolis during pre-Military Bowl festivities

55th Wing Commander, Brigadier General James J. Jones ride in the buggy pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales. They rode past the historical area of Offutt AFB, NE including Generals Row. The Clydesdales were at Offutt AFB, NE to salute the military on 29 June 2008. (Air Force/Released)
December 27, 2019

Hundreds of people bundled up Thursday morning and made their way down to West Annapolis to see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses in the Miracle on Annapolis Street — the first of many events scheduled for Friday’s Military Bowl game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Temple Owls.

Thursday was the first of two opportunities for the community to see the Clydesdales, who have been coming to Annapolis for the Military Bowl parade for years. They’ll be prepped for the parade early Friday morning at City Dock.

Inseparable from the Budweiser brand, the Clydesdales represent “the living embodiment of America’s great industrial spirit,” according to the Budweiser website. On Thursday in Annapolis, they also stood for holiday spirit and a love for long-lasting community traditions around football.

Just before noon, two giant red Budweiser semi-trucks carried in eight horses from New Hampshire. While they were being unloaded, attendees cheerfully milled between several humming food trucks, a live band and kids bounce house.

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By the time the Clydesdales were hitched to the glossy red carriage, many people had been waiting — smartphone cameras ready — for more than an hour.

Severna Park resident Elizabeth Appel invited her relatives from New York to join her to see the Clydesdales.

“I didn’t even know this existed,” Appel said. As soon as she found out about the event, she convinced her sister’s family to join her for the festivities.

She’d never seen the Clydesdales before but said she already loved the event for its neighborhood, street festival vibe.

Before the horses were unloaded, the cool air smelled like funnel cakes and beer. Mittened hands gripped smaller mittened hands, plastic Budweiser cups, or steaming mugs of coffee.

Murmurs of excitement rose from the crowd as the horses eventually began tugging the carriage guided by two men in green suits and a well-behaved Dalmatian.

The horses were a hit with children, many of whom had shed their brightly colored winter coats while they tumbled around in leaf piles and attempted to climb trees during the wait.

One child, giddy with excitement, bounced up and down upon hearing hooves on the pavement.

“They’re coming!” he screamed.

A few families down the block, Parker Holdren, 7, and his brother Blake Holdren, 5, “had their patient pants on” while they waited for the horses, their mother said. When the horses rounded the corner onto Annapolis street, the boys squealed with delight.

The magic wasn’t lost after the first go around the block — Blake politely interrupted a conversation when the horses were approaching a second time.

“Excuse me, the ponies are about to come back,” he said.

Severna Park resident Trish Davis said she’d previously seen the horses during a summertime event in New Jersey, and wanted to come out and see them again during the holidays.

The horses clomped around the block in unison just three times before the crowd nearly dissipated entirely. Still, they continued their route through West Annapolis into the afternoon, getting exercise and stopping for photo-ops with community members who arrived later in the day.

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© 2019 The Capital