Monday, November 27, 2000

Horses carry Lebanon back to another time




By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        LEBANON — From trap to trolley, from pony to Percheron, Lebanon's Christmas Parade is a pageant of horse-drawn transport.

        Participants come from all over the Tristate and beyond. They spend countless hours shining their surreys and grooming their greys for a brisk trot down Broadway.

        Many return year after year to the parade that began in 1988.

        “It's probably the best overall parade that we've ever been in,” said Bob Skelton of South Vienna, Ohio. “We've only missed one year since it's been in existence.”

        Mr. Skelton and his wife, Barbara, bring two equipages: One is a sleigh for Santa and Mrs. Claus; the other is a 20-passenger trolley pulled by a team of Percherons, or draft horses.

        The couple operate a carriage service, catering to weddings, anniversaries and other special occa sions. They take their horses and rigs to a variety of parades.

        “Lebanon really caters to horses,” Mr. Skelton said. “There aren't any marching bands.

        “Horses have a rough time with all that start and stop. In the Lebanon parade, the horses can run at the same speed the whole time.”

        For the sixth year, Delbert Cook's miniature horses will pull his two-seater Amish-style carriage along the parade route.

        He keeps his animals on a five-acre farm just outside Lebanon.

        Charlie Poppe's Welsh cobs will prance along in front of his English vis a vis carriage that dates from 1870.

        “I've never missed a Christmas festival yet,” he said. “It brings back the era of Lebanon at the turn of the century.”

        When they are not on parade, the equines will cool their heels at various spots around town.

        Their human companions will enjoy a Horseman's Luncheon nearby.

        “We're donating food for the luncheon this year,” said Tim Rieger, manager of Lebanon's Kroger.

        “When I first came to Lebanon in 1997 and attended the parade, I realized what a great event it was. It's a nice family-oriented event, and this year we ended up being one of the sponsors.”

        Mr. Rieger and his wife, in vintage costumes, will ride in a restored Kroger delivery wagon pulled by Percheron draft horses.

        The wagon is one of more than 200 horse-drawn vehicles that served Kroger's Cincinnati stores in the early 1900s.

       



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