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Clydesdales to return to the Shell Factory

February 26, 2020
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It was a dream of the late Tom Cronin to bring the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales to the Shell Factory, and he spent years trying to make that dream come true.

While Tom never got to see that dream realized, it has -- and then some. On Monday, March 2, from 2 to 4 p.m., the world's most famous horses will visit the Shell Factory for the third straight year.

"We're very honored to share this experience and this gift we're receiving with all our guests," said Shell Factory General Manager Anne Sheridan. "We expect big crowds like we did the first two times."

Suncoast Beverage once again has brought the legendary horses to Southwest Florida. The first two visits turned out to be among the largest events ever at the 80-year-old attraction. Visitors will get to see the full team, with eight horses getting hitched and paraded around the center parking lot. Pictures are not only OK, they're practically mandatory.

Harnessed and hitched to the famous red beer wagon, the full eight-horse team will be on hand. Horses chosen to represent the hitch must meet the most demanding standards to be part of the three wagon teams.

They must be at least three years of age, stand approximately 18 hands, or six feet at the shoulder; weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, be bay in color, have four white legs, have a blaze of white on the face, and have a black mane and tail.

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A single Clydesdale hitch horse consumes up to 25 quarts of feed, 50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day. Each hitch travels with a Dalmatian, whose breed, in the early days of brewing, was bred and trained to protect the horses and guard the wagon while the driver would make deliveries.

"We are so excited to have the beautiful Budweiser Clydesdales visit us again this year," said Pam Cronin, owner of the Shell Factory & Nature Park, who rode the wagon the first time they came. "We look forward to sharing the honor and experience with local residents and visitors. For someone who has never seen the Clydesdales in person, it is a spectacular show."

Sheridan said as heartbreaking as it was that Tom passed away the week before the first visit from the Clydesdales, it is great that his dream has become reality and that it has been such a success.

"When they come here, it's almost a show in itself. People love to watch the horses arrive in the front parking lot and get hitched up," Sheridan said. "The joy of seeing people who have never had the opportunity to share this is overwhelming."

The Shell Factory and Nature Park is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers.



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