From the sidewalk, windows and balconies, onlookers wave and smile as Bonnie and Belle, pulling an oversize wagon and a well-bundled family, pass.
The big Belgian horses enlivened the evening of Saturday, Dec. 1, offering free rides during Snoqualmie’s holiday celebration.
The bells on the wagon jingle energetically as driver Jeff Van der Peyl navigates the intersection, cars and trucks slowing to make way.
“It’s fun to drive because of their size,” said Van Der Peyl. “You’re dealing with 4,000 pounds of draft horse.”
“It makes people happy to be around horses,” says Marcy Buckner, who, with her husband Wayne, owns a herd of the draft horses on an 80-acre Fall City farm.
“These were the tractors of yesteryear,” Buckner said. “We still like to keep that kind of stuff alive.”
The horses are trained for pulling, plowing and logging. Owning them, Marcy says, is a hobby that pays for itself.
“They know that they’re working,” she says. “They will run up the ramp of the truck when you’re taking them to do a job.”
Belle and Bonnie are sisters. Belle is the leader, and she wants to work hard, pulling more than Bonnie.
“Even though they’re sisters, they’ve got different personalities,” Marcy says. “Bonnie kicks back. She knows Belle is doing most of the work.”
Carmichael’s True Value Hardware owners Wendy Thomas and Bryan Woolsey have paid for the holiday wagon rides for two years.
Thomas greeted riders with cookies and souvenir bell after the ride. She loves the nostalgia, and sees the rides as part of her mission as a business owner. When Thomas was a teen, she worked with horses on Bellevue’s Kelsey Creek farm.
“This is an old-fashioned store, an old-fashioned business model,” she said. “It’s about what we want to do here for our community.”
The evening also included an open house for business throughout the downtown. The city celebrated the lighting of the Christmas tree, the Cascade Team offered free photos with Santa in the gazebo, the Sno Valley Winds community band played holiday songs, and the Mount Si Chamber Choir sang carols.
Santa photos can be found at the Cascade Team website, http://www.thecascadeteam.com/local-events.php.