And the beer comes clopping in

Tyrel Linkhorn

Clydesdale team visits downtown Kent

The Clydesdales pull the old-fashioned beer wagon through downtown Kent. CAITLIN PRARAT | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Dan Kloock

Rhythmic clanking of steel horseshoes on asphalt and brick filled the city last night as the famed Budweiser Clydesdale team circled downtown Kent, drawing a large crowd of spectators in tow.

When the three Budweiser semis arrived just before 4:30 p.m., a crowd of more than 200 came together on North Water Street to watch the wagon and horses be unloaded from the trucks.

More continued to gather as the horses were hitched to the antique Studebaker-made red, white and gold beer wagon.

The horses, standing 6 feet tall at the shoulder, wore elaborate black harnesses trimmed in gold, with red and white ribbon braided into their manes.

Among those watching was Celia Rossano, who came from Mogadore with her 7-year-old granddaughter to take in the event.

Rossano, 67, said she was 5 years old when she first saw the Clydesdales in downtown Akron, there for a soapbox derby.

“I think it’s fabulous. I’m so glad she gets to see them,” Rossano said of her granddaughter.

At exactly 5:30 p.m., Buddy, the Dalmatian who rides atop the wagon, took his place, and the Clydesdales began the tour of downtown soon after.

The team made its first stop in front of the Zephyr and the Loft to deliver beer, a tradition that hearkens back to the immediate post-Prohibition era, when a team of Clydesdales delivered a case of beer to the White House.

As the team moved on, the growing crowd — including dads with daughters sitting on their shoulders and husbands and wives walking hand in hand — moved with it. Many on hand were armed with cameras, snapping countless photos, especially as the hitch passed the historic Pufferbelly and Ray’s Place.

City officials, too, were drawn to the event, not as planners, but spectators.

“We’re delighted,” said City Manager Dave Ruller, who was there with his family.

“I’m here as a fan.”

Kent State alumnus Joe Jordan, now an urban sales manager with Anheuser-Busch, facilitated the city getting the Clydesdales for free. It normally costs $30,000 to book the eight-horse team.

Silver Lake resident Donna Williams watched with grandson Zachary Williams as the team descended Main Street.

Donna said she first saw the Clydesdales in Akron in 1977 and “it was just as exciting then as it is today.”

Grandson Zachary, 9, also enjoyed the spectacle.

“I’ve never seen a horse that huge before,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Contact public affairs reporter Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected].