Gretna Days: Navigating Joy and Controversy with Budweiser Clydesdale’s Arrival


Lester’s Enthralling Encounter

Brook Kirchofer’s Joyful Meeting

Gretna Days, an annual celebration cherished by locals, commenced this year with an unexpected guest that stirred both excitement and controversy. The arrival of a renowned Budweiser Clydesdale horse, named Lester, marked the beginning of festivities, drawing crowds to the south parking lot of St. Patrick’s Church. Among the attendees was nine-year-old Brook Kirchofer, whose sheer delight upon meeting Lester echoed the sentiments of many present.

However, amidst the joyous atmosphere, concerns were raised regarding the treatment of these iconic horses by their corporate sponsor, Anheuser-Busch. As the event unfolded, it became apparent that the intersection of tradition, corporate sponsorship, and animal welfare had ignited a nuanced discourse within the community. This article delves into the captivating encounter with Lester, explores the controversies surrounding his appearance, and reflects on the broader implications for Gretna Days and its attendees.

Nine-year-old Brook Kirchofer was among the attendees who couldn’t contain her excitement upon meeting Lester. Despite being dwarfed by the towering horse, she described the encounter as “awesome,” expressing her sheer delight at the experience. Brook’s only regret was not being able to take Lester home with her, a sentiment shared by many present at the event.

Lester’s Stature and Significance

Standing at an impressive 6-foot-1 at the shoulder, Lester embodies the epitome of magnificence among horses. In cowboy terminology, his stature translates to 18.1 hands, further emphasizing his grandeur and commanding presence. As a member of the esteemed Budweiser Clydesdale team, Lester symbolizes tradition, excellence, and the iconic Budweiser brand.

Gretna Days

The Chamber’s Sponsorship and PETA’s Opposition

The Gretna Days Area Chamber of Commerce’s Role

The Gretna Area Chamber of Commerce played a pivotal role in sponsoring Lester’s appearance at Gretna Days. Partnering with Anheuser-Busch, they orchestrated the event, which garnered significant attention and attendance from the local community. However, their association with the Budweiser Clydesdales also sparked controversy and criticism from animal rights advocates.

Read More After This Article: Iconic Budweiser’s Heartwarming Super Bowl 58 Commercial Brings Back Beloved Clydesdales and Labrador Duo

PETA’s Allegations and Advocacy

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a renowned animal rights organization, voiced their opposition to Lester’s appearance through a letter addressed to Grant Pille, the chamber’s president. Citing concerns over the alleged mistreatment of the Budweiser Clydesdales, particularly regarding tail docking, PETA called for the cancellation of the event. Their advocacy aims to raise awareness and promote ethical treatment of animals, challenging practices they deem inhumane or exploitative.

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Budweiser’s Branding Woes

Anheuser-Busch’s Public Relations Challenges

Beyond the controversy surrounding Lester’s appearance, Anheuser-Busch has faced additional scrutiny regarding its marketing strategies. Recent controversies, including a Bud Light endorsement deal involving a transgender internet influencer, have ignited social media backlash and boycotts. The company finds itself navigating a complex landscape of public opinion and brand perception.

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The intersection of tradition, corporate sponsorship, and animal welfare concerns has cast a shadow over the otherwise festive atmosphere of Gretna Days. Lester’s enchanting presence elicited joy and admiration from attendees, yet it also sparked important conversations about ethical treatment and corporate responsibility. As the event unfolds, the community grapples with balancing celebration and conscientiousness, seeking to uphold cherished traditions while advocating for the welfare of all beings involved.

The arrival of Lester, the Budweiser Clydesdale, at Gretna Days brought a mixture of joy, excitement, and contemplation to the community. While many attendees were enthralled by the majestic presence of the iconic horse, questions about ethical treatment and corporate responsibility lingered in the background.

The controversy surrounding Lester’s appearance serves as a reminder of the importance of balancing tradition with conscientiousness, and celebration with advocacy. As Gretna Days draws to a close, the community reflects on the meaningful encounters, spirited festivities, and thought-provoking discussions that have unfolded. Looking ahead, it is evident that the legacy of Lester’s visit will continue to resonate, prompting ongoing dialogue and introspection within the community. As Gretna Days concludes for another year, it leaves behind not only cherished memories but also a renewed commitment to compassion and awareness.


Smith, J. (2024, February 15). Controversy Surrounds Appearance of Budweiser Clydesdale at Gretna Days. Gretna Gazette.