Whoa, Nelly!

The Budweiser Clydesdale team turns at the corner as the driver pulls on the reins and Gus the dog rides up top Dec. 6.
Base children pull the light switch and Col. Frederick Thaden, 75th Air Base Wing
vice commander, smiles with a group of children surrounding the tree.
A trainer with the Clydesdales team and Gus, the dog, wait at the BX.
Right, Santa poses for pictures with some children as their father snaps their picture.
By Krista Starker
Hilltop Times Correspondent
December 13, 2012

Several hundred people lined the streets from the Base Exchange to the Arts and Crafts Center in order to welcome Santa. Led by a team of Clydesdales, he came not in his sleigh, but on a bright red fire truck.

There was much anticipation as everyone waited for the tree lighting. After the countdown, base children flipped the giant light switch, the tree lit up and everyone cheered.

This was the first tree lighting for Col. Mary Brueggemeyer and her family who moved here in August.

"We've been to tree lightings at multiple bases and each one has its own flavor. This one was very nice," said Brueggemeyer. "No other base that we knew of has had the Clydesdales. They were one of the main reasons we came."

The Budweiser Clydesdales posed for pictures before and after the parade. Handler Jim Damico said the horses are from Colorado and are the same ones featured in the Budweiser commercials.

The largest horse in the team is 19 hands tall and they eat up to 6 times a day for about a total of 10 pounds of grain. They also drink about 30 gallons of water a day and they weigh around 2,100 pounds.

The Budweiser team came out for the lighting ceremony because during the months of November and December, they only attend military events.

"We want to show appreciation for what they do for us. So we are happy to do this for them," said Damico.