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With Chancellor Wrighton atop the hitch, the Clydesdales make the turn from Hoyt Drive to Forsyth. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

On a perfect fall afternoon, the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales helped kick off the presidential debate festivities at Washington University in St. Louis with a short parade across the Danforth Campus.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton served as honorary grand marshal. Sitting atop the classic turn-of-the-century–style beer wagon, he waved to the hundreds of students, faculty, staff, members of the community and media who lined the parade route Friday, Oct. 7.

Chancellor Wrighton gets his first-ever ride in the iconic Clydesdale hitch.

Chancellor Wrighton gets his first-ever ride in the iconic Clydesdale hitch. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Drivers Manny Raber and Rudy Helmuth, along with their companion Dalmatian, Clyde, led the eight-horse hitch team. Clydesdales Donnie and Rocco held the wheel position, followed by King and Roger, Jack and Rock, and Sparky and Cash in the lead.

Circling Brookings Drive twice, the horses made their stately march south onto Hoyt Drive, west down Forsyth Boulevard, then north onto Olympian Way. Trotting past historic Francis Field Gate, they headed east again, before stopping directly in front of Sumers Recreation Center — the site of Sunday night’s main event.

After the procession, brewmaster Rob Naylor and Doug Bailey, vice president of industry affairs at Anheuser-Busch, presented Wrighton with a commemorative case of Budweiser.

“This was my very first ride on a Clydesdale-led wagon, and it was a thrill,” Wrighton said. “I wish everybody could do it.”

This was also the first time the Clydesdales appeared on campus during a university-hosted debate. Wrighton says the special event highlights the longstanding and special relationship between the university and brewery.

The historic Clydesdales ride past the historic Francis Field.

The historic Clydesdales ride past historic Francis Field. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

“Anheuser-Busch has been a great partner of Washington University,” Wrighton said. “They’re a great St. Louis organization, and they’ve been with us for a long time. We have a building named in honor of Anheuser-Busch, and they have been supportive of scholarships, our School of Medicine and our programs in education and research. They’re just a tremendous company.”

Judging by the smiles and cheers heard from those in attendance, the Clydesdale parade was tremendous as well.

To see more pictures of the Clydesdales’ visit to campus, visit the debate Flickr page.