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Clydesdales are the stars at Houston's 2011 St. Patrick's Day

News_St Paddys Clydesdales
Photo by Jim Hilton; Flickr jamestamu83
News_St Paddys classic cars
Photo by Jim Hilton; Flickr jamestamu83
News_St Paddys Irish wolf hounds
Photo by Jim Hilton; Flickr jamestamu83
News_St Paddys Clydesdales
News_St Paddys classic cars
News_St Paddys Irish wolf hounds

The 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade in downtown Houston was a procession of familiar faces, as well as a few new additions.

Joining the family floats this year among the nearly 150 parade entries were the Budweiser Clydesdales who, although they probably didn't make converts of the hordes of Guinness-lovers, might have even outdone this year's 40 classic cars.

The Clydesdales rode in in three separate 18-wheeler trailers, with one dedicated to just their gear. There were spacious stables within each massive truck, with caregivers rolling out grassy (if not red) carpets for the magnificent animals.  

But as impressive as it was, their caravan was no match for the collection of vintage Firebirds and Thunderbirds that revved their engines down the parade route, thanks to Thunderbirds of Houston and other collectors.

Giving the horses some competition for attention was a remarkably well-behaved pack of Irish Wolf Hounds, just a few of the canines who got in on the action.  

Close to 10 floats, some classics and some recently renovated, crawled along throwing beads, blowing bubbles and pretend-chugging Guinness pints. We're biased (being good friends of last year's parade Grand Marshals Billy, Dave and Mike Carr), but their float, called "The Bone Band" and new this year, was our favorite, and it's not just because we helped assemble a faux bar, complete with an enormous tilting Guinness Pint sculpture.

Next year promises to be even bigger, with new Grand Marshal Sean Kearns, whose mother, Jeannie Kearns, was the parade's first female Grand Marshal. This year's Grand Marshal was the University of St. Thomas' Irish Studies director Lori Gallagher.

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