by Fred Hudson
The annual Christmas in Middleburg parade will take place Saturday (Dec. 3) and, once again, the Standardbred Retirement Foundation will be representing the harness racing industry.
Last year’s parade brought out a record attendance of more than 25,000 spectators that closed down the town of Middleburg, Va. Many of the town’s restaurants actually ran out of food. The parade starts at 2 p.m. following the Middleburg Hound and Hunt Review at 11 a.m.
The SRF’s participation in the Middleburg Christmas parade under the guidance of Judy Bokman and me is now in its fourth year.
When we first started participating in the parade there were only about 10,000 spectators and then the following year it grew to around 15,000 and last year it was totally unbelievable and unexpected with more than 25,000 people showing up.
Joining the SRF along with me will be harness driver/trainer Mark Gray (with a sulky and horse), riders Rachel Rhodes and Michelle Graham along with racing official Cheri Collison.
Moira Fanning of the Hambletonian Society has sent gifts and brochures to pass out to the spectators and Allison Conte of the USTA has sent fan guides and coloring books to also pass out. Dr. Scott Woogen, President of the Virginia Harness Horseman’s Association, is working out the details of their participation.
This parade is a great way for the harness racing community to showcase its sport to a large, influential crowd that, mostly, have no familiarity of or have never seen a harness race. Many celebrities participate in the parade including NFL Hall of Famers Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins.