Through the eyes of children

Published 3:10 pm Monday, September 5, 2022

I want to publicly thank Margaret (Meg) Howdy and her awesome team at the Washington Harbor District Alliance in collaboration with the Carolina Eagle Distributing Company and the Budweiser Corporation for bringing the magnificent Clydesdale horses to Washington.

What a wonderful event that was!  I have never seen so many people on Water and Main Street.  People were standing everywhere to get, for some, a once in a lifetime look at some of the most beautiful horses in the world. I love horses and Clydesdales are indeed the standard of show horses to me.  A lot of us have grown up watching the Clydesdale horses in the Budweiser commercials on television, and have admired them for their grace, pomp and splendor.   But to see them up close took it to a whole new level.

As WDN reporter Holly Morgan put it, “Main Street from Gladden to Market Street had crowds of people packed like sardines.”

Milt and I were on Water Street and watched in awe with hundreds of people as the handlers brought the horses off the traveling carrier trucks.  We watched them prepare the horses to be bridled and hitched to the Budweiser wagon.  The Budweiser spokesman introduced us to each horse by name. He told us their ages, height, how long they had been with their trainers, how much they weighed and how much food and water they consumed in one day.

All eight horses once hitched, waited patiently for the pageantry to begin. As marvelous as this was, I witnessed something even more marvelous that afternoon.  I saw people from all walks of life, and of all ages and skin colors celebrating together that day. I did not see one face, whether young children in strollers, or elderly men and women in wheelchairs without a big smile, and delight dancing in their eyes, as we watched the horses and their handlers.  The older people rejoiced and clapped their hands next to school children who did the same. For we adults, it was if we all through wonderment and joy became children again and saw the world through the eyes and joy of children. That indeed is a precious gift.

Children as well as adults raised their hands and patiently waited to ask questions about the horses. Milt waved his hand like a flag as did the children next to us to be called on to ask his question, “where did the name Clydesdales come from?”  His question answered by the Budweiser spokesman helped us to learn the history of the Budweiser Brewing Company and the horses.

For one glorious afternoon, hundreds of people celebrated together, laughing and talking, enjoying the event.  My friend and Washington historian photographer Jack Willard moved about with great skill to capture the pictures that would help show others who did not attend the event the pageantry of the horses, as did so many others.  Hundreds of cell phones captured the same moments.  As the horses left Water Street to turn on to Gladden Street and then Main Street, I heard scores of people express their gratitude, and remark how wonderful it was for such a small town to host this event. I agree.  Folks and organizations in Washington have planned awesome events, concerts in the parks, festivals and events for all of Washington and beyond to enjoy. Come and join us!

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the Co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.