Clydesdales’ ‘circles’ draw 5,000+ to JCP parking lot in Turkey Creek

  • Rachel Hurley, right, brought her daughters, Haynes, left, and Willa, along with her mother, Beth Sanders, to see the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales. - Michelle Hollenhead

  • The world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales brought their unique talents to the JCPenney parking lot in Turkey Creek Wednesday, Dec. 1, much to the delight of thousands who braved the traffic and crowds to see them. - Michelle Hollenhead

Thousands gathered in Turkey Creek Wednesday, Dec. 1, for a chance to see the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales in action.

Organizers estimated anywhere between 5,000 and 7,500 individuals visited the JCPenney parking lot over a four-hour time frame, just to see the eight-horse team pulling an old fashioned beer wagon, which featured drivers in old-fashioned garb.

Many took photos and videos of the horses as they made circles around the crowd, which never let up but were respectful and awestruck at the vision,

The appearance was sponsored by WIVK-FM, JCPenney and Pinnacle at Turkey Creek and was part of a multi-county opportunity to see the horses.

“The Budweiser Clydesdales were absolutely amazing,” said Jennifer Johnsey, WIVK promotions director. “ The team that handles the horses were professional, and it was so neat watching them bring the horses out one by one to hitch them onto the carriage. The whole experience was memorable. The smiles and wonder on everyone’s faces is something I will never forget.

“As a community it was so neat to have something like this to bring us all together.”

As for gratitude, “We would like to thank the Turkey Creek Shopping Center and JCPenney for allowing us to host this event in their parking lot,” Johnsey said.  “We did not anticipate the huge turnout but everyone handled the crowd with patience and grace.”

Johnsey said she predicted 1,000 would attend.

“We estimated around 5,000 showed up but was told it was around 7,500,” she said. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but it was definitely packed. 

“People were parking and walking from other parts of the shopping center as well. “

Michelle Austin, JCPenney general manager, agreed the event “went really well. We were glad to be part of this event and hope our community enjoyed seeing these magical horses as much as we did.

“Parking is always a challenge for our customers when we do these events, but most were so excited to see the Clydesdale horses they found a place and understood the crowds,” she added. “Turkey Creek does a great job finding fun things to bring to Farragut and we were excited to have the opportunity to be involved.”

While they were in East Tennessee, the Clydesdales also participated in the Gatlinburg Christmas Parade, visited Food City in Maryville and played a part in the 40th anniversary commemoration kick-off of the 1982 World’s Fair on the World’s Fair site in downtown Knoxville.