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Published: Tuesday, 1/1/2013

Sleigh rides draw crowds to Fremont’s Hayes Center

Hundreds arrive for post-Christmas memory

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Tim Myers, in the driver’s seat, smiles at those in line waiting for a ride through Spiegel Grove at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont. Hundreds braved Sunday’s cold for the event. Tim Myers, in the driver’s seat, smiles at those in line waiting for a ride through Spiegel Grove at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont. Hundreds braved Sunday’s cold for the event.
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FREMONT — Eight-year-old Tesla Ollom, awe-struck by the wintry, picturesque scenery, was silent as she and her dad whizzed along a snow-capped path aboard a sleigh pulled by a grand Clydesdale.

The minute the ride was over Sunday afternoon, she couldn’t stop talking about it. Her favorite part: when the mighty horse picked up speed and hoofed it through the newly fallen snow, and snow crunched beneath the weight of the heavy sleigh.

“It was beautiful with the snow-covered trees and the snow falling,” said Matt Ollom, Tesla’s father. “She got to ride the sleigh she wanted, which was the one with a single horse, and she got to ride in front.”

Hundreds of people, including many family groups, lined up for hours Sunday for the chance to make a post-Christmas memory riding through Spiegel Grove at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont.

Mr. Ollom acknowledged that sleigh rides are usually a pre-Christmas tradition but the weather just recently obliged.

“This is the first we have had snow,” he said as he and Tesla walked to their home nearby. “When I was a kid, it seems like it would start in October, but last year we just had a little bit and now it just came.”

Hot chocolate was the only thing missing from the sleigh-ride scene, Mr. Ollom and his daughter said.

Tim Myers of South Creek Clydesdales ran the sleigh rides from Wednesday through Sunday.

People bundled in heavy coats, hats, scarves, and gloves and braved the bitter cold that stood near 20 degrees for a chance to ride through the wintry forest. The line Sunday for the ride, which cost $3 a person, stretched into the museum.

Mr. Myers said the rides would have proceeded without the snow because the sleighs are equipped with wheels, but he was grateful for the snowfall early in the weekend.

People traveled from miles away for the rides. Pam Wiechman of Port Clinton came with her granddaughter, sister-in-law, and a little girl they watch.

William and Jessica Lucas drove in from Bellevue, Ohio, with their two sons for the event.

“This was the first time the weather cooperated in that there was snow, but it was not snowing today,” Mrs. Lucas said. “It was fitting of the season. Some years it has been rainy and muddy, and that doesn’t get you in the feeling of the holidays.”

Their sons Connor, 3, and Michael, 5, got a bit sleepy waiting in line for the sleigh, but both perked right up when it was time to hop on.

“The best part was when we went through an alley of trees,” Mrs. Lucas said. “There was that feeling of what it would have been like to travel in a carriage or a sleigh during these winter months in the past.”

The 10-minute trot followed a circular path through the woods on the property.

Although people seemed to enjoy the ride, many shivered and hurried back to their cars, except for the Olloms, who seemed undaunted by the chilly weather on their way back home.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Mr. Ollom said as he walked alongside his daughter.



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