Now that the tree at the Courthouse in downtown Lincolnton is officially lit and storefronts decorated, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Santa will establish residence at the Lincolnton Santa House beginning this Thursday and will be there on subsequent Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5-8 p.m. to take Christmas wishes and pose for photos.

Seasonal nostalgia returns on the same evenings with horse drawn carriage rides along Main Street between 6:30-9:30 p.m. The horses and carriages will be supplied again this year by James “Daddy” Parlier. 

While the Parlier horses may only be used during December for the carriage rides in Lincolnton and occasionally for weddings, there’s a lot of upkeep involved in keeping the gentle beasts throughout the year. A few of the regular horses passed away over the summer due to old age and replacements are hard to find. Parlier hit the jackpot in West Virginia purchasing five new Belgians (a breed of draft horse) from an Amish farm.

“The Amish horses tend to be better trained because they use them every day,” he said. “Once they’re trained, they’re pretty solid.”

Parlier said he really enjoys giving rides every year. People have come from as far away as Asheville and sometimes wedding proposals are made along the way. Sometimes though, people will get impatient and grumpy waiting in line, but Parlier said that as soon as the ride gets underway, the mood usually changes, and the holiday spirit takes over.

“You can have somebody who’s standing in line grumpy as the devil and when they start going and them old horses are plodding along with the lights and music, before they get back, they’re happy,” he said.

The carriage rides are offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Dec. 5 – 21, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. weather permitting. The cost is $10/person for carriage rides and $5/person for wagon rides, children two and under are free. No reservations are required. The Santa House is open from 5-8 p.m. and there is no cost associated with it. In case of inclement weather, keep tabs on the City of Lincolnton and or the Downtown Development Association of Lincolnton Facebook pages for announcements.

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