Get ready for some football, along with lots of fun activities and events, all surrounding and celebrating the 2015 Military Bowl in Annapolis. Presented by Northrop Grumman, this year’s Bowl, which benefits the USO, takes place on Monday, December 28 at 2:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. But for some fans, the Military Bowl Parade, beginning at 11 a.m. that day, is just as much of an attraction. That’s because some very famous horses are once again leading the way.
For the third year in a row, the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales will headline the parade, which starts at the Annapolis City Dock. Steve Beck, President and Executive Director of the Military Bowl, said that the Clydesdales are now an integral part of the Bowl experience.
“Having the Clydesdales is just awesome,” he said. “The Clydesdales have their own following and they definitely are an attraction. For instance, prior to our first Military Bowl Parade in 2013, we were contacted by a woman whose father lived in the region, had served in the Marines, and on his bucket list of things to do was see the Clydesdales. With help from our partners at Katcef Brothers Inc., we arranged a special experience for him to meet the Clydesdales up close and personal. You have no idea how much we enjoy this aspect of the Bowl, to be able to do those things.”
First bred for farm work in Clydesdale, Scotland, over 300 years ago, the horses became associated with Budweiser in 1933. Scott Smith, from Budweiser’s Clydesdale team, explained how they became the public face of the company, courtesy of its owners, the Busch family.
“The Budweiser Clydesdales were a gift from August Busch Jr. to his father August Busch Sr., to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition,” Smith said. “Being brilliant marketers and lifelong horsemen, a team was dispatched to travel to visit Washington, DC and New York City to deliver ceremonial cases of post-Prohibition Budweiser.”
Since then, the horses have become synonymous with Budweiser, regularly appearing around the country at various sporting and community events. There are several “hitches” or teams of the horses that travel around, and Smith said that the company has one of the largest Clydesdale breeding programs in the world, producing 35-45 foals a year.
While the Clydesdales are a big part of the Military Bowl experience, it wouldn’t be a Bowl without the football game, which this year is Navy vs. Pittsburgh.
Steve Beck said that’s what sets the Military Bowl apart from other Bowl games, its commitment to America’s Armed Forces.
“Our game has a mission that we deeply believe in: to support and honor our nation’s military,” he said. “It is evident in everything we do, throughout the year. We are committed to doing anything we can for these brave men and women.”
To that end, the Bowl created Tickets for Troops, which, since 2008 has provided more than 25,000 free tickets to troops and their families through a partnership with the USO.
“Every year,” Beck said, “we have an allotment of complimentary tickets set aside for our nation’s servicemen and servicewomen. They are distributed through USO-Metro at local military bases in early December and we welcome these men and women to join us on game day. Additional information is available at www.militarybowl.org/militarytickets.”
Profits from the Bowl also go to the troops, in the form of donations to the USO. So this December 28, get set for football and fun, and a special appearance from the famous horses referred to as the “Gentle Giants,” all for a good cause.
The Military Bowl kicks off on Monday, December 28, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Tailgate opens at 9 a.m. Parade starts at the City Dock at 11 a.m. Pub Crawl and Gallery Walk the night before. More info atwww.militarybowl.org.
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium: 550 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, MD; www.militarybowl.org