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Budweiser Clydesdales step off Military Bowl festivities in Annapolis

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 23, 2023

The Day-After-Christmas “Miracle” is returning to Annapolis on Tuesday, but backtracking a few blocks.

The Budweiser Clydesdales will trot through West Annapolis instead of down West Street, as they did last year, returning to the neighborhood that hosted the hitch in 2019 and 2021.

A spokesperson for Katcef Brothers, the Annapolis-based Anheuser Busch wholesaler, said the hitch is switching routes this year “so that businesses all over Annapolis could benefit from the Budweiser Clydesdales’ appearance.” The eight-horse-plus-one-Dalmatian parade will very likely return to West Street in the future, the Katcef spokesperson added.

Thousands of people staked out spots along West Street to see the Clydesdales last year. While the enormous horses made for a striking sight looping Church Circle, some families with young children complained it was difficult to view the hitch and maneuver through the crowds compared to the West Annapolis route, with its wider sidewalks, porches and parking lots. This year’s family-friendly equine parade is slated to begin at 1 p.m. and wrap by 3 p.m. Around noon, trailers will arrive on Melvin Avenue. Spectators are not allowed in the staging area but can watch as the horses are tacked up between Tucker and Annapolis streets.

Typically, the bay geldings used in Budweiser hitches weigh nearly a ton and stand 17 to 19 hands at the withers. (For non-equestrians, that means the horses measure at least 5 feet, 7 inches at the highest point of their shoulder.) Breeding records date to 1837, when Scottish farmers began identifying a top stallion in each district and coordinating efforts to produce draft horses that were strong, intelligent and gentle. Many were conscripted during the First World War, however, and by 1975, the Clydesdale was listed on the United Kingdom’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Watch List. Their status remains “at risk,” meaning there are fewer than 1,500 breeding mares in the U.K., and in North America, the Clydesdale is considered threatened by the Livestock Conservancy.

The Anheuser-Busch Company’s breeding program deserves some of the credit for preventing the Clydesdale from going extinct. In 1934, the St. Louis-based company celebrated the end of Prohibition by hitching Clydesdales to a beer wagon and distributing ale with much pomp and circumstance. After delivering the first post-Prohibition beer to the White House, “The Budweiser Clydesdales” became a marketing sensation, and have remained key to the company’s branding ever since, from Super Bowl ads to in-real-life appearances.

“As we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Budweiser Clydesdales this year, we’re proud that they continue to embody Anheuser-Busch’s efforts to uplift our neighbors and make a meaningful impact on our communities across the country,” Cesar Vargas, chief external affairs officer of Anheuser-Busch, said in a news release announcing the annual “Miracle” visit in Maryland.

The Annapolis Clydesdale parade route begins on Giddings Avenue and turns left on Tucker Street, such that the horses circle the block counterclockwise. If time allows, they will traverse the loop twice, halting frequently for selfies, which should be taken at a safe distance from the horses’ gigantic hooves.

Not following the Clydesdales this year: A contingent of Welsh and Pembroke corgis, recruited from a corgi-enthusiast Facebook group, that brought up the rear last year.

(While adorable, some of the short-legged dogs did cause trouble by eating manure.)

The West Annapolis Business Association, organizers of the “Miracle” event along with Katcef Brothers, will begin festivities at noon and keep the party going until 4 p.m. Several beer trucks (also offering cider and non-alcoholic options) will be stationed along the route, and food trucks will stand ready to feed crowds on Annapolis Street, east of Giddings Avenue. Festivities also include live music on a stage set up outside of Evelyn’s and a kids zone with face painting, games and a balloon artist.

Parking is available at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for $10 via Gate 5, the Taylor Avenue entrance. From to 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., a free shuttle will run between Giddings Avenue and the stadium.

The Clydesdales will harness up again at 10 a.m. Wednesday to step off the Military Bowl Parade. While not hauling beer, the horses will convey two special guests: Mayor Gavin Buckley and his wife, Julie. That procession begins at City Dock, and also includes the Tulane and Virginia Tech marching bands, whose teams will be playing in the bowl game that afternoon. The 60-unit parade ends at the stadium, and is projected to last about 90 minutes, with rolling road closures along the route.

“This is the time of year when Annapolis truly shines,” the mayor said. “Everything is decorated, and the Military Bowl parade and Clydesdales’ ‘Miracle on Annapolis Street’ events give us one more chance to take in all that beauty.”

A timeline of the two-day festivities is as follows:

Tuesday, Dec. 26

“Miracle in West Annapolis” Budweiser Clydesdale Parade, events noon to 4 p.m., Clydesdales 1 to 3 p.m., West Annapolis

Wednesday, Dec. 26

— Military Bowl Parade, 10 a.m., City Dock

— Military Bowl, 2 p.m., Navy-Marine Corps Stadium

— Military Bowl Pub Crawl, 4 to 9 p.m., various locations throughout Annapolis


(c) 2023 The Baltimore Sun

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