Standardbreds Join Christmas Parade

Published: December 5, 2021 01:37 pm EST

On a near perfect Saturday with temperatures near 60, the town of Middleburg, Virginia presented its annual Christmas in Middleburg Parade, with retired Standardbreds helping to spread holiday cheer.

The parade is an all-day event that is held each year on the first Saturday of December. It is estimated that there were about 25,000 spectators present and the event's $20 parking passes were sold out three days in advance of the event. The parking lots were located outside of the village and spectators were shuttled by busses into and out of the town.

The Standardbred Retirement Foundation's group consisted of retired horses A Fool For Mark, ridden by Michelle Graham, and Southern Rosa, with John Brabrand up. Sage Hanover had to be withdrawn at the last minute from the parade's line-up by rider Shaleen Gee due to the horse becoming too nervous. Others representing the harness racing industry were Freddie Hudson, Janice Atwell and Susan Arrington.

The town's festivities started at 8 a.m. with breakfast with Santa, a crafts fair and hot chocolate, then at 11 a.m., the Hunt & Hound Review took center stage where over 30 hounds and about 100 horses and riders rode down the town's main street that officially started the Middleburg Christmas season.

Three hours later at 2 p.m., the main event parade took place. This year's parade was led by Virginia Governor Youngkin. The SRF was number 22 in the line-up of 80-some odd entries behind the Highlander Bagpipers and in front of Boxwood Winery's entry of a 1926 truck decorated with greenery and wine barrels driven by former Washington Redskins owner John Kent Cooke. After the parade, the town was open to the spirts of Middleburg.

It took the SRF group 45 minutes to complete the half-mile walk with cheers every step of the way from the 25,000 spectators -- many shouting the SRF's website

(With files from SRF)