Horses on Parade: Where Are They Now?

“Horse of a Different Color” | Located at The Norman Howard School in Henrietta, NY | Photo: Matt Foote

“Horse of a Different Color” | Located at The Norman Howard School in Henrietta, NY | Photo: Matt Foote

If you’ve spent any amount of time in Rochester, chances are you’ve probably seen a few of the many decorated horse statues scattered throughout town. From the side of the 490 to front lawns and rooftops of buildings, inside the Greater Rochester International Airport, and even in the backyards of some residential homes - you can find these multi-colored horses full of character practically everywhere if you look hard enough.

But where did they come from? And who put them there?


“Horses on parade” - a fundraising event in rochester, ny

Launched back in 2001, the project, known as “Horses on Parade,” was a collaboration between local public relations & advertising firm Dixon Schwabl and the High Falls Brewing Company (which is now present-day Genessee Brewery). The idea was to engage the community, showcase the talents of local artists, and ultimately raise money for various local charities by organizing sponsorships of 150+ life-sized, fiberglass horse statues

 

Why Horses?

Other cities around the country have seen success with similar initiatives (see also: Chicago’s Cow’s on Parade, Lighthouses in Portland & Boston’s Cavalcade of Cod), but of course, the organizers wanted to put their own Rochester spin on the idea. The team eventually decided on horses after drawing inspiration from Genessee’s popular, locally-made 12 Horse Ale (which I don’t think they make anymore? But I could be wrong).

After each horse was carefully planned out and decorated, the community got to work. Seemingly overnight, the parade was afoot. The horses were scattered throughout the city and surrounding suburbs like Pittsford and Henrietta for locals and tourists alike to enjoy during the entire summer of 2001.

“Amer-Equis” | Located on top of Tel-Tru Manufacturing Co in Rochester, NY | Photo courtesy of Andy Germanow

“Amer-Equis” | Located on top of Tel-Tru Manufacturing Co in Rochester, NY | Photo courtesy of Andy Germanow

Community Engagement & Success

To the surprise of many, the horses ended up being a massive success. Rochester locals loved the built-in scavenger hunt that accompanied the “parade.” Limousine companies apparently saw their sales skyrocket during the summer months as people excitedly booked chauffeurs to drive them to all of the horses’ locations, and a published book about the project sold around 30,000 copies. 

“The community had an opportunity to discover places they hadn’t seen in years,” the CEO of Dixon Schwabl explained in a previous interview. “People dropped by our office with three-ring binders...they wanted to show us that they had visited all the horses.”

 

Horses on Parade was originally supposed to conclude with an auction to sell off the horses in September of 2001, however the September 11th terrorist attacks quickly put that on hold. After the auction was rescheduled for October, the community rallied. Over $650,000 was raised from the sales of the horses alone, and the total amount distributed to local charities from the entire project reportedly reached $1.4 million, making the Horses on Parade Rochester’s highest-profile charitable event of its time


Horses on Parade: Where Are They Now?

18 years later, people are still inquisitive about Rochester’s beloved horses. Below are a few of the horses’ locations I’ve been able to confirm, along with any details I’ve been able to uncover about their unique stories. I’ll be continually adding to this list as I find more!

Click each picture below to learn more:

HAVE A HORSE or KNOW OF A HORSE?

If you have any additional knowledge on the Horses on Parade project, know where any of the horses are located today, or have a story you’d like to share, I want to hear from you! 

Please click the button below to get in touch with me so I can include your information!


Horses on Parade in Rochester, NY

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