A Tacky Tourist Trap & an Unexpected Surprise

The natives were getting restless, more specifically Don.

Don decided he was tired of hanging out at the campground today & suggested we do something, anything. We ended up at a typical, tacky, old Florida tourist trap. I do mean old, it’s been around for 75 years. It touts itself as Florida’s #1 destination……… The Shell Factory. 

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It was tacky outside. Huge plaster dinosaurs & seashells. Mounted shark teeth over the entrance & fake flamingos.

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It was tacky inside. Painted shell wind chimes & clip-on parrots for the wannabe pirates shoulders. Pukka shell necklaces & license plate sized postcards.

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And we looked at everything. Yes, it was fun. It’s amazing what someone will make out of seashells.

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On our way back to the RV park, I reminded Don that I needed to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few items. As we were heading in that direction, what did we see?

Much to our surprise, it was…..The  Budweiser Clydesdales!

Of course we stopped!!!!!

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Apparently we arrived just as they were preparing to make a scheduled appearance to our area. The team is in town for the Edison Parade that is held annually in Fort Myers. It’s a big to do for the city. They are making appearances to different places around town & we just happened to stumble across one.

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The Clydesdales arrived in 3 semi-trailers. There are 10 horses in all. Eight horses form the hitch team while 2 are held in reserve. We learned that each horse must meet certain requirements in order to be part of the Anheuser-Busch hitch team. Each draft horse must be a gelding of at least 4 years of age. They must stand 72″ at the shoulder & weigh between 1,800 to 2,300 pounds. They must have a bay coat, 4 white legs, a white blaze & a black mane & tail.

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These gentle giants will each consume 20-25 quarts of grain, 50-60 pounds of hay & 30 gallons of water each day.Another interesting fact, each horseshoe is 20″ from end to end & weighs 5 pounds each.

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There are actually 3 teams that tour. One team is from Anheuser-Busch’s hometown of St. Louis, MO. The other 2 teams hail from Ft. Collins, CO & Merrimack, NH. The team we saw today was the Merrimack team.

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Before every showing each horse is brushed & wiped down. The wagon is given a once over as well with handlers going over every inch with clean polishing cloths. It literally shines. Did you know that each wagon is an actual turn of the century beer wagon that has been meticulously restored?

The manes are braided & roses are inserted into it.

The manes are braided & roses are inserted into it.

Even their hineys are adorned for the occasion.

Even their hineys are adorned for the occasion.

A Little Clydesdale History

This breed was developed for farm work over 300 years ago near Clydesdale, Scotland. They are capable of pulling a 1 ton load at 5 MPH.

The original team was a gift from August Busch Jr. & Aldolphus Busch to their father to commemorate the repeal of the Prohibition Act. Their father was moved to tears. Thus the term “crying in your beer” was coined.

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The 1st public appearance of the hitch team was on April 7, 1933. In 1950, the mascot, a Dalmatian was added to the team. Dalmatians traditionally were used to guide horse drawn fire carts. The Dalmatian who rode with the team we saw today is named Brewer.

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We thoroughly enjoyed being able to see these beautiful beasts up close; to see the whole process of preparing both horse & cart for a viewing. Much effort goes into each appearance. The handlers were all friendly & patiently answered questions that I’m sure they’ve been asked thousands of times before. What a way to end our day!

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Here’s lookin’ at you kid…………………..

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A Tacky Tourist Trap & an Unexpected Surprise

  1. That last picture of the horses is way cute! Love the “grin”! I’ll say that was a cool way to end the day! I have always wanted to go to the stables in St. Louis.

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