They’ve galloped across snow-covered fields at Christmas, are perennial favorites during Super Bowl breaks and helped America heal during the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks by trotting into New York’s Battery Park and kneeling in the Statue of Liberty’s shadows.
And on Friday, the world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales awed a crowd of onlookers at Lander University, where the horses pulled their iconic wagon for a trip around its campus under a gentle sunset.
“My night was set. Unless I died, I was going to be here,” Cindy Dominick of Greenwood said prior to the horses’ arrival on 18-wheel rigs bearing their figures.
The draft animals debuted as the beer company’s mascot in 1933 and have become one of the most iconic brands in American advertising history.
Lander athletic director Brian Reese said the horses were brought to campus because of the school’s strong relationship with KW Beverage, a major distributor of Anheuser-Busch products. Greenwood was included in a three-day hitch schedule for the Clydesdales that featured a stop in downtown Clemson on Thursday and appearances in Greenville and Anderson through Monday.
“I told somebody the other day, ‘I’m 55, and this is the first time I get to see them,’” Reese said. “They’re truly, truly iconic, and having them come to Greenwood is amazing.”
Mona Rains, of Greenwood, brought her 4-year-old grandson, Ethan, to Lander for the experience. Both spent the entire week anticipating their arrival.
“This is all we’ve talked about ever since we found out. I just love them. They’re magnificent,” Rains said.
Susan Cook, of Laurens, snagged a selfie with the horse-drawn carriage behind her, just before it went for a spin around Lander’s grounds.
“They are absolutely magnificent. They’re in a caliber above horse. I came down just to see them, and they did not disappoint,” she said.
Each horse trains for five years to win a spot on the wagon team. Standing at roughly 18 hands each and weighing between 2,100 and 2,300 pounds, they’re outfitted with customized $80,000 harnesses and go through 30 gallons of water daily.
The evening was especially memorable for Laura Williams, of Prosperity. Her 87-year-old father, James, is a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fans — the home city of Budweiser and the horses.
“Oh my goodness, what a magnificent beast,” Williams said to herself while filming the animals.
She said having her father on hand to share the experience was poignant.
“I was hoping to take him to a St. Louis Cardinals game, but this is the next best thing,” she said.