Jilan Lemieus enjoyed a unique view of downtown Lake Geneva during a recent trot in a horse-drawn carriage.
Horse and buggies are back as a summer attraction for downtown visitors.
Lemieus and her friend, Donaven Packard, decided to hop aboard the horse-drawn carriage ride after a day of shopping.
“It’s unique. It’s relaxing,” she said. “We just decided to get out of the hustle and bustle of downtown.”
After a five-year absence, horse and buggies returned to Lake Geneva this spring through Live Horse Entertainment, an operator from Kenosha County.
Horse-drawn carriages were part of the city’s landscape for about 11 years before the previous operator ceased operations in 2014.
Lake Geneva aldermen agreed in April to allow Live Horse Entertainment to revive the horse and buggy rides in the downtown Maple Park Historic District.
The brother-and-sister team of Richard Costa and Katherine Farli are the proprietors of Live Horse Entertainment and are offering rides every Saturday and Sunday, and sometimes on Fridays. Rides are offered between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and cost $60 for a 25-minute ride.
Costa said he decided to restart the horse-drawn carriage rides after being approached last year by Lake Geneva residents. Horse-drawn carriage rides seem to have a long history in Lake Geneva, he said.
“I thought it would be a welcoming idea to bring back,” he said.
Costa said he is drawing four to six riders a day since bringing his horse and buggy to town starting about a month ago.
He said he may change his operating hours to connect with more riders, but he said he is pleased with the response so far.
He plans to continue the carriage rides throughout the summer.
“Everyone has been very nice and have said it’s nice to see the horse carriage back,” he said.
The rides are based outside Delaney Street Mercantile, 905 W. Main St.
Beverly Leonard, co-owner of Delaney Street Mercantile, said she has enjoyed seeing the carriage rides return to downtown.
“I’m pro-carriage rides,” Leonard said. “There’s not many communities that can add to their summer fun.”
The horse carriage rides start outside Delaney Street Mercantile on Cook Street, then turn west on Main Street, north on Warren Street, and take a scenic trip through the Maple Park Historic District before ending back at Delaney Street Mercantile.
Each ride can accommodate up to six people.
Farli said she has enjoyed taking people on the carriage rides, during which she often gives customers a little history about Lake Geneva and the buildings in the Maple Park district.
“It’s fun to be in a community where I can share my love of horses with other people,” she said. “Everybody enjoys it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Costa said there have been no problems so far with downtown street traffic conflicting with the carriage rides.
The operators use primarily a 20-year-old horse named “Rebox,” which is fed hay and water after each ride.
Farli said Rebox is used to being around people, although she said people should not stand too close, because he likes to jerk his head around.
Besides the usual carriage rides, Live Horse Entertainment is also available for weddings and other special events.
Farli said the group offers carriage rides in downtown Chicago, so the horses are used to being in heavy traffic.
“I like driving here a lot better than I do in downtown Chicago,” Farli said. “It’s a lot quieter and nicer, and everybody is so polite. It’s welcoming. It’s very nice.”