This story was updated March 2 to correct the date of the parade.
Bluffton’s Clydesdale Parade demonstrates the town’s emergence as a regional tourism and cultural destination on par with its more famous neighbors Savannah and Hilton Head Island, event organizers say.
“Bluffton is unique, the horses are unique,” local developer and Old Town Dispensary owner Thomas Viljac said Tuesday. “Having the parade here makes all the sense in the world, plus it give us a sense of pride.”
The second annual parade, scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on March 15 along Calhoun Street, will feature eight Budweiser Clydesdales.
It’s going to be a huge party.
Their presence is validation for all the work going into to growing the town’s historic district, Viljac said.
“When you see those horses, you get the feeling of Budweiser’s history — of America’s history, really. That’s how iconic those Clydesdales are,” he said. “And when you walk around (Old Town), you get the feeling of Bluffton’s history. It’s a fantastic marriage.”
The horses, made famous by decades of memorable Super Bowl commercials, will help Viljac and business partner Matt Jording celebrate the sixth anniversary of the opening their bar and restaurant.
The pair worked last year with town officials and representatives from Anheuser-Busch, the company that produces Budweiser, to organize the inaugural parade.
“Budweiser was drawn to Bluffton,” Jording said. “These horses are not just passing through. They come here for us, for Bluffton. We made the cut for the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, and that’s amazing.”
Having the parade here makes all the sense in the world, plus it give us a sense of pride.
Last year’s parade “had a lot of moving parts,” Jording said. “... But it was, I would say, beyond a success.”
That success made it a no-brainer for both Anheuser-Busch and the town to make the parade an annual event, he said.
In addition to getting a chance to take a photo with a 2000-pound horse, parade attendees will get to sample some of the freshest suds around.
Budweiser will bottle beers the morning of the parade “in their Jacksonville plant and drive it up,” Jording said. “It’s three hours old; you can’t get much fresher.”
The Clydesdales will parade down the Promenade, stopping at each bar or restaurant to drop off a case of hours-old beer, he said.
“It’s going to be a huge party,” Jording said. “I can’t wait.”
Event organizers are looking for volunteers to help with crowd control along the parade route. Volunteers must remain sober during the parade. For more details, visit the Old Town Dispensary’s Facebook page or stop by the restaurant at 15 Captains Cove Rd.