Windermere Farms’ Percherons trot in Rose Parade

Gerald Allebach wants the group that shouted to his family during the 124th Rose Parade Tuesday to know that he heard their support.

Allebach, his wife, Melissa, and their 12-year-old son, Abraham, or Hammer, drove their champion Percheron horses in the parade, part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses event. They raise and show the horses on Windermere Farms in Gregg Township.

Gerald Allebach spoke about the experience Tuesday evening, Pennsylvania time, from Pasadena, Calif.

“There was a group of people off to my right, and I don’t hear very well, and they were yelling, ‘go State College, go Penn State, we’re so proud of you, we love you,’ ” he said of the local supporters. “I don’t know who it was, but they ought to know I heard them.”

Last week the Allebachs were on their way to California with seven of their Percheron draft horses, weighing in at about 2,000 pounds each. Tuesday, Gerald Allebach used a dozen different adjectives to describe the experience.

“It was pretty neat,” he said. “They told us exactly what time — they said, ‘We are going to be here to take you to the parade route at 7:17 (a.m.),’ and we put the last piece of harness on, the last buckle, and it was 7:12, so we had five minutes to spare.”

Along with that, the wagon the horses pulled were adorned with 50,000 yellow roses, which Allebach said took “a lot of time” to get ready. After the parade, Melissa had the idea of reusing the flowers, and the family took them to a retirement home.

Ahead of the parade, the Allebachs drove six of their horses in Equestfest Saturday in Burbank, Calif. The event allowed spectators to meet some of the horses that would appear in the parade. Gerald Allebach said his son was the youngest to drive horses in the event.

Videos of that event and the parade are posted on the Windermere Farms Facebook page.

Before the parade, the horses had to stay in their trailer overnight, while they’re used to spending nights in their stalls, but good weather and trained animals resulted in a good parade experience, he said.

“We really worked hard to focus on safety,” he said. “These horses are horses that we show all over. They’re very intense, specialized athletes. They always enjoy their work. They don’t know they’re in the Rose Bowl, they just know they’re in the world.”

Though temperatures in the 60s were higher than the horses are used to this time of year, Allebach said they didn’t break a sweat until the end of the event, had plenty of water, and received electrolytes afterward to keep them hydrated.

He said the family will monitor the horses’ condition to determine when they should start for home, and will at least let them rest through Wednesday.

Back home, Allebach’s parents were “glued to the TV” to watch the parade before celebrating their 50th anniversary. He said they would watch the Percherons trot through before any parties began at home.

“It was a great experience and we feel very fortunate to be chosen for it and to represent Centre County,” Allebach said. “I think we’ll be talking about it for a while.”

Ahead of the trip, Melissa Allebach said she hoped she could say the experience was a fun one, and confirmed that in the background Tuesday.

“I can say, ‘Wow, that was fun,’ ” she said.