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Vintage KSDK: History of the Budweiser Clydesdales on their 89th anniversary

The Clydesdales have been a beloved tradition in St. Louis for decades. And their debut has special significance in the city.

ST. LOUIS — This week's Vintage KSDK marks the 89th anniversary of the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Check out this beloved video from our archives of the 50th anniversary celebration held for the horses at the Anheuser-Busch brewery on April 7, 1983.

April 7 is also the anniversary of the end of prohibition in the U.S., which happened back in 1933. And it turns out the Clydesdales and prohibition don’t share the anniversary date by accident.

The celebration was led by then-Anheuser-Busch honorary chairman August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr. He was presented with proclamations from then-governor Kit Bond and former St. Louis mayor Vince Schoemehl.

Then-St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary made Busch Jr. an honorary park ranger and announced that a park in St. Louis County would be named Clydesdale Park.

But the biggest gift of all came from Busch Jr.’s son, August Busch III: a new Clydesdale.

"It is fitting and historically appropriate for me to present to my father a 22-month-old Clydesdale stallion acquired especially for this occasion," announced Busch III.

The symbolism between father and son went back decades.

April 7, 1933, marked the end of prohibition, and on that day, Busch, Jr. presented the very first hitch of Clydesdales to his own father, August Anheuser Busch Sr.

Fifty years later, KSDK reporter Aaron Mermelstein covered the Clydesdales golden anniversary in 1983, including an interview with Busch Jr.

"Did you ever imagine 50 years ago the Clydesdales would become the institution that they've become?” asked Mermelstein.

“I did not realize it,” responded Busch Jr., “but thank God they did."

Busch Jr. passed away in 1989.

Almost 90 years after the tradition began, the Clydesdales remain a St. Louis institution.

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