The world-renowned Heinz Hitch of magnificent black Percherons has sadly been unhitched due to a decision by the Heinz company in an attempt to curb expenses.
The team of eight black Percheron horses, each weighing around a ton, have proudly pranced their way through holiday parades, Rose Bowl parades, the Calgary Stampede and numerous state fairs for more than two decades.
The full complement of eight horses is used in all events, except when parades involving tight turns allow for only the four horse team to be used.
The nostalgic scene of the magnificent black horses pulling a red 150-year-old wagon while the ground rumbled below their feet has thrilled countless people across America.
The original delivery rig manufactured by Studebaker was found in an old storage shed in central Pennsylvania. Completely refurbished, it became a popular attraction at fairs, expositions, and parades throughout the country and is believed to be among the world’s largest hitch wagons in use today.
Horse-drawn grocery wagons were used by the H.J. Heinz Company to deliver their products in the late 1800s.Through the past decades, the Heinz Hitch has become an ambassadorial team and a piece of living history for the company.
For 32 years, Mr. John Dryer has driven and cared for the horses and wagons designed to evoke memories of yesterday.
And now … with the retirement of the Heinz Hitch, it is has become a piece of history.
Regardless, Dryer still cherishes the 22 years he and others spent on top of the red wagon while reining in the majestic draft horses.
“God, it was so spectacular, it was just unbelievable”.
John Dryer says the departure of the horses is like sending a son or daughter away to college without the promise of future visits.
“Good-bye” to Justin, one of the eight Percherons.
Story information: Pittsburg Post Gazette
Photo: Pittsburg Post Gazette