November 7, 2013 11:04:05 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Columbus municipal code prohibits billboard signs referencing beer or light wine. Violators would be committing a misdemeanor.
If you can bring Clydesdales to the Friendly City, councilmen might be willing to make an exception.
Councilmen unanimously approved a request from Main Street Columbus Executive Director Barbara Bigelow Tuesday night to allow two billboards containing an image of the iconic horses with the Budweiser logo in the city limits leading up to Columbus' Dec. 14 Christmas parade.
Local Anheuser-Busch beer wholesaler Mitchell Distributing will furnish five billboards for $2,500 promoting the Clydesdales' appearance.
The signs in Columbus will be featured near the intersection of Highway 45 North and Bluecutt Road and the Highway 50 exit of Highway 82. The advertisement will also be featured on signs between Starkville and Columbus on Highway 82, in Starkville and in Aberdeen.
Bigelow noted the ads do not encourage the sale or consumption of alcohol. She said Mitchell Distributing has done much to support the community.
"We're very appreciative of all that Mitchell Distributing has done and we're looking forward to those magnificent animals being a part of our parade," Bigelow said.
Mitchell Beverage Columbus general manager Tony Carley said the company's Tupelo operation won the opportunity to have the horses at a public event of their choosing because it was one of seven Anheuser-Busch wholesalers to earn an award for excellence in management and marketing.
"They were sent in for Tupelo, but we opted to have them into Columbus because we wanted to try to help out the Christmas parade and Columbus as a whole," Carley said. "Economically, it's going to be a big push for Columbus."
That push will likely be as a result of visitors who would not have attended the parade had such an attraction not been on the bill, he said.
"You can't put a price on having something like that," Carley said. "We go to all these places (in Mississippi) and I've heard so many people talk about how they have not been to Columbus at all or to a Christmas parade in Columbus even they lived around there but they would be coming now."
The parade is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. The date was moved to Dec. 14 from Dec. 2 to accommodate the horses' schedule.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.