There was a time when things were simpler. Slower. Hay Street was not abuzz with cars but was filled with horse-drawn carriages plodding through downtown and meandering through neighborhoods, and people stopped to greet one another as they passed on the street. Cool Spring Downtown District’s Carriage Tours of Olde Fayetteville celebrate that spirit and charm all while sharing Fayetteville’s colorful history. Nov. 10, following the Veterans Day Parade, tours will depart from Cool Spring Downtown District at 222 Hay St. from 1-6 p.m.
The guided tours include historic sites from Fayetteville’s rich 250-year history. Riders learn about the people and events that shaped the city and get insight into the places and personalities that have become local legacy and lore. You may think you know Fayetteville, but chances are, even if you’ve lived here your whole life, you will learn something new.
Dr. Hank Parfitt started the carriage rides three years ago. “Part of it is that over the years I learned more and more about Fayetteville’s history,” he said. “I was surprised how far back our history goes. For 150 years, Fayetteville was a commercial and trading center for the state, and it had an important role in government. There are just so many interesting people and events, and I am always looking for ways to promote my hometown.”
He is still passionate about the carriage rides and the way they highlight local history. It’s important to Parfitt that the tours are not only fun, but historically accurate, too. That’s why all the guides receive one-on- one training with the city historian.
“The response has been phenomenal,” said Parfitt. “I noticed a real increase in the numbers of people we seem who have moved to Fayetteville recently. And they do the tours because they want to learn more about their new town. It is a great way to get a connection to your new community. It’s a fun way to learn something and make memories – and take some fun selfies.”
Parfitt added that more than 40 percent of carriage riders are from out of town, and two-thirds of that group are from out of state.
In addition to monthly rides in the warmer months, there are themed rides throughout the year as well. There are rides at A Dickens Holiday, during December and on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, among others.
The rides during A Dickens Holiday, which is on Nov. 23, run from 1-9 p.m. Expect to see the drivers, carriages and even horses dressed for the occasion. Parfitt noted that there are two kinds of carriage rides at A Dickens Holiday – two wagons that seat up to 12 people and the Queen Victoria carriages, which can seat up to six people. For reservations for A Dickens Holiday carriage rides, call 910-223-1089. Tickets sell out fast.
Parfitt also said carriage rides will also run weekends throughout December and will include Santa Claus. For the November and December rides, advanced reservations are recommended. Call 910-678-8899 to reserve a ticket for the Nov. 10 or December rides. Tickets are $25 per person; $20 with military ID; and $15 for children under 12.