Carriage Rides Newest Main Street Attraction

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Carriage rides around Green Valley Park is the latest attraction on Main Street.

"It's just a place that needs carriage rides," Brenda Steelman said. "It has the history. It has the ambience. It has the charm."

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Dr. Patti Blackmore meets Phil, the "horsepower" behind the old-fashioned carriage rides now available Thursdays through Saturdays at Green Valley Park. Brenda Steelman, owner of Strawberry Carriage Company, looks on.

Steelman's Strawberry Carriage Company is offering the rides beginning at 3 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through September.

"My staging point is on the east side of the intersection of Green Valley Parkway and Main Street between the two little lakes," Steelman said. "The ride goes around the lake, so it's almost two miles."

Fares begin at $20 for one or two adults with two to three small children under 10. Four adults is $30. The maximum number of people the carriage will accommodate is four adults and two small children.

Steelman will also pick riders up on Main Street, but they have to call her and there is a small extra charge for the service.

Her carriage is an authentic replica manufactured in Quebec. It was delivered to Strawberry in "a very large truck."

But the upholstery was the wrong color so she sent it back to Quebec in a very large truck. On the second try the manufacturer got it right -- a black carriage with gray upholstery.

Steelman's horse, Phil, is a 15-year-old Appendix -- a Quarterhorse-Thoroughbred mix with lots of experience.

"We bought him from Knotts Berry Farm where he was a carriage horse and a stagecoach horse," Steelman said. "He's 16 hands, but he's very sleek and elegant."

After 10 years at Knotts, Phil has developed a wonderful work ethic.

"Phil knows work," Steelman said. "I've had to teach him it's OK to have fun."

Steelman moved to the Rim country from San Diego seven years ago. That's also when she started driving, but back then it was just for pleasure.

"I had to move east because the West is all fenced in and there's no place to ride anymore," she said.

Strawberry Carriage Company also offers carriage rides in Strawberry on Sundays by appointment only, and she does special events like weddings and anniversaries.

Steelman says that a carriage ride -- especially a ride around the lakes at Green Valley Park -- can be a very romantic experience.

"A bouquet of flowers and a carriage ride is an excellent way to impress a new girlfriend -- or a wife of many years," she said.

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