To some residents, the clip-clop of a horse’s hoofs and dampened hush of a snowy night sky signify the arrival of the holiday season.
Downtown Parker contains the quintessential elements of an enchanting Colorado Christmas. Big-city outsiders can only dream of its small-town bliss, complete with extravagant light displays, garland-wrapped street posts and what has become an annual tradition in Parker: horse-drawn carriage rides.
The Old Town Parker Holiday Carriage Rides, which are being billed as a “Norman Rockwell-like holiday experience,” began Nov. 23 during the mayor’s holiday lighting ceremony. From 4-7 p.m. every Saturday through Dec. 22, the carriage will shuttle families, couples and friends through the streets of downtown, stopping by places like Vines Wine Bar, Parker Station and the Victorian Peaks building on Pikes Peak Drive.
Council member-elect Joshua Rivero, who owns Fika Coffeehouse on Mainstreet, was among the leaders of the now-disbanded Downtown Development Council, which created the carriage rides in winter 2009. His shop also hosts Douglas County Libraries’ holiday storytelling sessions in conjunction with the rides. The idea of the weekly festivities is to “get people out and about” and inspire holiday spirit, he said.
“The malls are great, but people are also looking for Christmas how it used it be,” Rivero said.
And in a day and age when it seems like everything has a price tag, the carriage rides are free, courtesy of the Parker Chamber of Commerce and a handful of sponsors. The event has attracted thousands of people with not only the carriage rides, but with story readings, live entertainment and seasonal refreshments.
Rivero said other Front Range towns, like Littleton and Arvada, have central downtown cores that are conducive to events like carriage rides. Parker is among communities building the rides into a signature event as the downtown district continues to take shape.
For more information on the Old Town Parker Holiday Carriage Rides, visit www.parkerchamber.com or call 303-841-4268.