PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

February 5, 2013

Clydesdales loom at Mardi Gras

PORT ARTHUR — The Super Bowl celebrities of the hour, the Budweiser Clydesdale horse team, have finished filming commercials just in time for Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas.

The eight-horse team will clip-clop down the street Wednesday afternoon to deliver beer, pizza and other prizes to the Beaumont resident who won the online contest sponsored by Budweiser, Del Papa Distributing Co. and Kicker 95.1 FM.

Kicker 95.1 personalities Tammy Daye and the Cuban Cowboy will join the Clydesdales as they make their way to Rebecca Woodland’s home.

But the Clydesdales have a lot on their Mardi Gras schedules. The horses will lead the Courir Parade down Lakeshore Drive Thursday afternoon and the Krewe of Krewes Parade down Procter Street Friday evening.

The Clydesdales will trample down Procter Street again Saturday night as they lead the Krewe of Aurora Grand Parade and again on Sunday as they lead the Truck Parade.

Yes, this is the same group of horses who were featured in the Super Bowl commercial, minus the foal, who was with her mother, said Roman Raber, assistant supervisor of the handlers. The advertisement won USA Today’s 25th Super Bowl Ad Meter contest, the daily newspaper reported.

The 10-horse team has taken a break from its bustling traveling schedule to park at the Port Arthur float den through the weekend.

The team travels with 10 horses but only eight work at a time, so the horses can have a break in between, Raber said. Eight handlers travel with the horses some 320 days a year in three large, red Budweiser trucks. They attend rodeos, parades and sporting events with their canine companion, Brady, a six-year-old Dalmatian.

There are three traveling teams of Budweiser Clydesdales, said John Fink, a handler from Illinois. This team of geldings was from Fort Collins, Colo., but Clydesdales are native to Scotland.

Fink and Raber spent three weeks in Thousand Oaks, Calif., filming the Super Bowl commercial before heading to Southeast Texas. They helped train the horses, cleaning and clipping them and ensuring that they hit their marks, Fink said.

“It was a lot of elbow grease,” Raber said.

For the handlers, that work is nothing new. They care for the horses year-round and around the clock, walking them in the mornings and constantly stuffing hay into their stalls, Fink said.

Clydesdales drink approximately 30 gallons of water a day and consume anywhere from 30-40 pounds of food a day — a mixture of hay, grain, grass, carrots and apples. They generally weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, Raber said, and live until their mid-20s.

The Budweiser Clydesdale tradition began as a gift from two sons to their father, August A. Busch Sr., according to Anheuser-Busch.com. To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition, August A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father on April 7, 1933, with six Clydesdales.

The company sent a second six-horse Clydesdale team to New York the same day to commemorate the event, according to the website. The Clydesdales drew a crowd of thousands as they clomped down the streets of New York City to the Empire State Building and presented a case of Budweiser to then Governor Alfred E. Smith in a small ceremony.

The Clydesdales continued their tour of New England, making a stop in Washington, D.C. in April 1933 to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The delivery had actually been shipped by air and presented April 7, 1933.

Shortly afterward, the team increased its numbers to eight horses, adding a Dalmatian companion in 1950. Anheuser-Busch currently owns about 250 Clydesdales.

email: bcrum@panews.com

twitter: @broocrum

 

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