Hundreds turn out to see World-Famous Clydesdales at Brandywine Ace

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Larry Drennen, left, one of the owners of Brandywine Ace, Pet and Farm greets Toby, the Budweiser Clydesdale, Saturday.

POCOPSON — Hundreds of local residents enjoyed a perfect late spring morning and got to meet one of the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales at Ace Hardware Pet & Farm, Saturday morning.

Toby, the star of the morning, was greeted by a long line of fans — many of them children — excited to meet the equine celebrity, one of a group of Clydesdales famous for pulling the Budweiser Beer wagon, a tradition dating back to 1933.

It made perfect sense for this historic animal to make an appearance at one of Chester County’s oldest continually operating business — the hardware store at Rt. 926 and Pocopson Road dates back to the 1840s and has long been a hub of commercial activity in the area. Additionally, ACE — the national hardware chain — is celebrating 100 years of operation. This local store has been an ACE outlet for decades.

A big crowd was on hand to greet Toby, the Budweiser Clydesdale at Brandywine Ace Pet & Farm.

There were more than a few gasps as Toby emerged from the special Budweiser 18-wheeler designed for the Clydesdales to travel in comfort and safety — at about six feet tall, these are some of the largest horses anywhere. Even here in horse country, the sheer size was a bit of a surprise for many onlookers.

On hand to greet Toby and his handlers was Larry Drennen, one of the owners of Ace Hardware, Pet and Farm. Immediately, a long line of local residents were ready for their moment to get a picture with Toby.

For nearly a century now, the Clydesdales have become synonymous with with Budweiser — with dozens of commercials, notably well-remembered spots aired during various Super Bowl broadcasts.

It all started in April 1933, when August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father, August A. Busch, Sr., with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition of beer.

Realizing the marketing potential of a horse-drawn beer wagon, the company also arranged to have a second six-horse Clydesdale hitch sent to New York to mark the event. The Clydesdales drew a crowd of thousands on their way to the Empire State Building. After a small ceremony, a case of Budweiser was presented to former Governor Alfred E. Smith in appreciation of his years of service in the fight against Prohibition.

This hitch continued on a tour of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, thrilling thousands, before stopping in Washington, D.C., in April 1933 to reenact the delivery of one of the first cases of Budweiser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Shortly after the hitch was first introduced, the six-horse Clydesdale team increased to eight. On March 30, 1950, in commemoration of the opening of the Anheuser-Busch Newark Brewery, a Dalmatian was introduced as the Budweiser Clydesdales’ mascot. Now, a Dalmatian travels with each of the Clydesdale hitches.

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