After years of trying to get them, the First Ever 15th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade® has landed the famous Budweiser Clydesdales for this year’s March 17 event.
“We have had almost constant contact over the years with the Anheuser-Busch folks who manage the Clydesdales in an effort to get them to take part in our parade,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs and one of the founders of the parade. “This year, Jay Castillo, president of Arkansas Beverage Sales, Inc., here in Hot Springs, was successful in getting the big beautiful horses signed up for our 98-foot extravaganza. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
“The Budweiser Clydesdales will bring a new level of excitement and attention to Hot Springs because of their worldwide fame,” Arrison said.
The Clydesdales have been the world-recognized symbol of tradition for Anheuser-Busch since 1933.
The eight-horse hitch will be harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon for the 98-foot trip down Bridge Street, the world’s shortest street in everyday use when the parade begins at 7:30 p.m. on March 17.
Canadians of Scottish descent brought the first Clydesdales to America in the mid-1800s. Today, the giant draft horses are used primarily for breeding and show.
Horses chosen for the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch must be at least three years of age, stand approximately 18 hands — or six feet — at the shoulder, weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, must be bay in color, have four white stockings, and a blaze of white on the face and black mane and tail. A gentle temperament is very important, since the Clydesdales meet millions of people each year.
A single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume as much as 25 quarts of feed, 50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.
Each hitch travels with a Dalmatian coach dog. In the early days of brewing, Dalmatians were bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon when the driver went inside to make deliveries.
The Budweiser Clydesdales can be viewed at the Anheuser Busch breweries in St. Louis, Mo., Merrimack, N.H., and Fort Collins, Colo. They also may be viewed at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis and at Warm Springs Ranch, the 300-acre Clydesdale breeding farm located near Boonville, Mo.
- Each of the Clydesdales’ handcrafted harnesses and collars weigh approximately 130 pounds.
- The Budweiser Clydesdales are given short names, such as Duke, Mark and Bud, to make it easier for the driver to give commands to the horses during a performance.
- Budweiser Clydesdales’ horseshoes measure more than 20 inches from end to end and weigh about 5 pounds.
- Dalmatians were known as coach dogs because they ran between the wheels of coaches or carriages and were companions to the horses.
- Since the 1950s, Dalmatians have traveled with the Budweiser Clydesdales hitch, perched atop the wagon proudly seated next to the driver.
- The turn-of-the-century beer wagons have been meticulously restored and are kept in excellent condition. The wagons are equipped with two braking systems: a hydraulic pedal device that slows the vehicle for turns and downhill descents, and a hand-brake that locks the rear wheels when the wagon is at a halt.
The Clydesdales will join fellow celebrities Joey Fatone of *NSYNC and Jon Heder of “Napoleon Dynamite” fame as attractions at this year’s parade. Fatone will be the celebrity grand marshal and Heder will be the parade’s official starter.
For the first time ever, there will be a genuine marching band in the First Ever 15th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade®. The Mountain Pine High School Red Devil Marching Band will have the honor of being the first-ever certified marching band in the world-famous 98-foot parade.
The parade begins at 7:30 p.m. this year, an hour later than usual, to give Oaklawn racing fans time to watch the Rebel Stakes at the track and still have time to get downtown for the parade.
There will be a free public concert on Friday night, March 16, by music legends Grand Funk Railroad and Adam Faucett, who was named Songwriter of the Year by the Central Arkansas Music Awards. The concert begins at 7:15 p.m. at the Broadway Entertainment District stage. On Saturday night, March 17, immediately following the parade, there will be another free public concert at the same location by Morris Day and The Time.
The parade, which began in 2003, annually attracts crowds of upwards of 30,000 people to watch an insanely zany collection of Irish Elvis impersonators, green Irish wolfhounds, marching units such as Paddy O’Furniture, Irish belly dancers and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, as well as other unique units cover the 98-foot length of Bridge Street in the heart of downtown Hot Springs.