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Bud Clydesdales visit Shell Factory

March 13, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO (news@breezenewspapers.com) , North Fort Myers Neighbor

For the second year running, fans looking to see the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales packed the parking lot at the Shell Factory in North Fort Myers Thursday.

Thousands came to catch a glimpse of the horses, watch and take pictures as the team was hitched up before making its way to the center parking lot where they took laps, accompanied by their faithful mascot, Bud the Dalmatian.

This particular team, one of three nationwide, made the first of four stops in Lee County last week, with the help of Suncoast Beverage.

Article Photos

People take photos of the Budweiser Clydesdales during their appearance at the Shell Factory last Thursday.

CHUCK BALLARO

Anne Sheridan, general manger at the Shell Factory, said the horses create a sensation and bring people back to a place they may have gone to as a child.

"It's amazing. We have beautiful weather and the main parking lot is packed. I think we have more people here this year than last," Sheridan said. "We like that people get to know us again. They remember us and say they hadn't been here in years. It's a plus all the way around."

Pam Cronin, Shell Factory owner who rode the wagon last year, did not ride this time but enjoyed the event.

"The crowd is even bigger this time and everyone seems to be having a good time. The roads are backed up both direction on 41 and everyone is smiling and life is good," Cronin said. "Tom loved the Clydesdales and it means a lot to us that our friends from Suncoast are taking care of us."

Nick Green, Clydesdale ambassador, said the show begins the moment they arrive, and though it takes a while to get going, once the horses come out and get hitched up, things get exciting.

"We try to put on a show for everybody even when they're getting hitched up. These horses we breed ourselves, so there's a lot that goes into it before they even make the shows," Green said.

The horses took the attention in stride as hundreds of people took pictures with cell phone.

Linda Weinkauf, from South Fort Myers via Michigan, said she has planned to see the Clydesdales multiple times, since she has fond memories of them.

"The first time we saw them was at Busch Gardens. The kids were this big and we got a picture of them standing underneath them," Weinkauf said. "It's just awesome and beautiful to see."

Donald Matlock, a snowbird from Illinois who lived near the Clydesdale stables but now lives in North Fort Myers, has seen them a bunch of times.

"I love horses and I also love Budweiser beer. But the horses are beautiful and taken very good care of," Matlock said. "I've seen them Cardinals games on Opening Day and parades, at least 100 times."

The horses have to look almost identical, stand about 18 to 19 hands tall and weigh at or close to a ton. The horses train for three to four years before they go on the road, which is between 280 and 330 days a year, Green said, adding a horse stays on the road for 10 years before they are retired to pasture.

The Clydesdales became a part of the Budweiser family in 1933 as a gift to Budweiser owner Augustus Busch to celebrate the end of prohibition.

 
 

 

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