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One of few exclusively horse-drawn carriage parades is happening here this weekend

Approximately 60,000 to 70,000 spectators are expected to gather in downtown Lebanon on Saturday, Dec. 1 for the 30th Annual Lebanon Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival.

“This year, we are highlighting the people that started our parade 30 years ago. At that time, the director of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce was Pat South, and she and a group of people got together and started this parade. There were 13 carriages in the first parade,” said Joe Wilson, one of the parade’s longtime organizers and stage announcers.

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He said about 10 to 12 of the original members and their families will be riding in the parade and recognized this year.

“Some of them started the parade with Pat South, others were chamber board members, who helped to get it all going with them,” he said.

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The original Christmas Festival committee members, who shared the vision of starting the annual Carriage Parade, included Steve Foster, Sheila Denny, Gayle Froelich, Pat Arnold South, Sylvia Thompson Outland and Emmor Baily.

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Lebanon hosts the largest horse-drawn carriage festival in the U.S. every year, with two parades located with decorated carriages — the nighttime one will have lights. (Contributing Writer)

WHY IT’S SPECIAL

“We are the only, all-horse-drawn carriage parade that we know of, anywhere in the country. There might be some from other states that we don’t know of, but there’s none within 300 or 400 miles of us,” said Wilson, who is also a past board member and a former chairman of the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce.

What makes the event unique is the parade is made up of horses, carriages and wagons or carts. There are no riders on horseback or motorized vehicles.

The Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce will present the 29th annual Lebanon Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival on Saturday, Dec. 2. The event takes place in downtown Lebanon from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. STAFF FILE PHOTO

WHAT TO EXPECT

The festivities will include live entertainment, food and craft vendors along Mulberry and Mechanic Streets from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and two parades in historic downtown Lebanon at 1 and 7 p.m. The free, family-friendly event always takes place the first Saturday of December. About 103 carriages have signed up to participate this year. The antique fire pumper will also be back to round out the parade for its 30th year.

Presented by the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Lebanon, highlights of the event are the 1 p.m. afternoon carriage parade and the 7 p.m. candlelit evening parade. Each parade will feature over 100 decorated carriages pulled by Clydesdales, Belgians, miniatures and show horses. Many of the drivers are also dressed in costume. 

The Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce will present the 29th annual Lebanon Carriage Parade and Christmas Festival on Saturday, Dec. 2. The event takes place in downtown Lebanon from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Wilson said the Ohio Horseman’s Council is actively involved each year, and the Volunteer Teacher’s Association from Lebanon Schools provides food and beverages for the parade participants.

Each parade will last about an hour. The two-and-a-half to three-mile parade route circles throughout the downtown Lebanon central business district. The parade kicks off at the corner of Broadway and Oakwood in front of Berry Intermediate School.

Parade watchers watch the Lebanon Carriage Parade from the balcony of The Golden Lamb, Ohio’s Oldest Hotel. The annual parade features horse-drawn carriages through downtown Lebanon. CONTRIBUTED (Contributing Writer)

In between the parades, entertainment will include live performances on the main stage on Broadway Street, train rides on the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad’s North Pole Express, a church open house, and pictures with Santa from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 4 to 6 p.m. There will be a Living Nativity scene from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lebanon Presbyterian Church, and the historic Glendower Mansion will be open for Christmas at Glendower. Lebanon author Beth Gully will be present for a reading and book signing at the Golden Lamb Gazebo from 11 a.m. to noon and 5 to 6 p.m. The Arts Council of Lebanon will present a free art exhibit from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. titled, “An American Illustrator,” by C.F. Payne. Payne will be available throughout the day.

Attendees can also visit the many boutique and specialty shops.

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