ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)- A well-known symbol will appear right before your eyes in downtown Roanoke. In a release Wednesday, January 22, Downtown Roanoke, Inc. and P.A. Short Distributing announced the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales would be participating in the annual Freedom First St. Patrick's Day Parade and Shamrock Festival on March 14.
Eight of these "Gentle Giants" will be hitched and harnessed to the famous red beer wagon, guiding it through the parade route, from Jefferson Street to Campbell Avenue, and ending at Williamson Road.
A symbol of tradition and quality for Anheuser-Busch since 1933, the Clydesdale's appearance in Roanoke is only one of hundreds made each year.
The giant draft horses were first brought to the United States in the 1800's, by Canadians of Scottish descent. Today, they are used mainly for breeding and show.
However, only the best can become Budweiser Clydesdales. Horses chosen for the hitch must be at least three-years-old, stand approximately six-feet-tall at the shoulder and weigh an average of 2,000 pounds.
The horses also have to be bay in color, with four white legs and a blaze of white on the face, along with a black mane and tail. Most importantly, the chosen Clydesdales have to have a very gentle temperament (to handle the millions of people they meet annually).
One Clydesdale hitch horse consumes approximately 20-25 quarts of feed, 40-50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.
Every hitch travels with a Dalmation. The dogs were once bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagons when deliveries were being made.
The Budweiser Clydesdales can be seen at the Anheuser-Busch breweries in St. Louis, Missouri; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as Grant's Farm in St. Louis and Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-plus acre Clydesdale breeding farm near Boonville, Missouri.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Jefferson Street at Elm Avenue, and will be aired live on WZBJ24. The Shamrock Festival will start an hour earlier and last until 5 p.m. For more information about the parade, click here.
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