In advance of the Made in America Festival on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway this weekend, Budweiser's team of Clydesdales will be clomping through the city over the next three days – and residents are invited to come out and meet the giant brand ambassadors.
Eight Clydesdales will march in full hitch with a restored turn-of-the-century beer wagon in tow 6 p.m. Wednesday at 7544 Frankford Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia, 7 p.m.; Thursday at 2120 Fairmount Ave. in Fairmount; and 4 p.m. Friday outside the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Hall, 11630 Caroline Rd.
Requirements to join the elite hitch team are nearly as steep as those needed to play in the Made in America Festival.
Each Budweiser Clydesdale must be a gelding of at least 4 years of age, stand 72 inches at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds, and have a bay coat with four white legs, a white blaze and a black mane and tail.
The horses also come with quite a backstage rider – each Clydesdale consumes 20 to 25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins, in addition to 50 to 60 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water daily.
The origins of the Budweiser Clydesdales date all the way back to 1933, when A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father with the gift of a six-horse hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition.
The horses made their first public appearance April 7, 1933, in New York City, where they marched to the Empire State Building and presented a case of Budweiser to former Gov. Alfred E. Smith "in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition," according to the company.
The six-horse hitch was soon increased to eight, and a Dalmatian was added to the team on March 30, 1950, during the celebration of the opening of Newark Brewery.
The canine mascot now travels with each hitch as they appear at events around the country.