July 19, 2013 in Features

Carriage rides offer tours of Spokane, CdA at a slower pace

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Bruce Spencer drives a horse and carriage through downtown Spokane. Free rides are offered Friday evenings through the end of August, now on a bigger, wagon-bench carriage, in downtown Spokane. They’ll be offered in Coeur d’Alene, too, starting Aug. 9.
(Full-size photo)

Chickerdoodle, Manly Stanley and Highfalutin work the streets, two at a time.

Every Friday evening, the horses spend four hours clip-clopping through downtown Spokane, pulling a wagon-bench carriage.

Free rides, about 15 minutes and a few blocks long, are offered this month and through the end of August. Starting Aug. 9 and running through the end of the month, they’ll be offered in Coeur d’Alene, too.

How many people can share a ride depends on the size of the people and “how cozy you want to be,” said driver Bruce Spencer, of Spencer’s Carriage Rides, based in Post Falls. As many as 15 small and cozy people can ride at once, he estimated.

Over the years, they’ve included children and adults, locals and tourists.

While Spencer typically drives the horses on a short, preset route, he’ll make a special stop if “somebody has an important deal,” and he happily answers newcomers’ questions.

“They might ask where to eat, and I ask ’em which flavor they like and point ’em in that direction,” Spencer said.

The horses wear diapers that are emptied during breaks.

The wait for rides is usually shorter in the summer than in winter, when they’re offered in downtown Spokane during the holiday shopping season, said Marla Nunberg, a vice president at Downtown Spokane Partnership, which has worked with Spokane Teachers Credit Union to provide the summer horse and carriage rides since 2001. If there’s a wait, it’s rarely longer than 20 minutes, she said.

STCU is working with the Downtown Coeur d’Alene Association to offer the rides there.

The rides offer a slowed-down, 360-degree view of downtown Spokane, Nunberg said. “You get a lot more of the experience by not being enclosed in a box in a car,” she said. “You can see all the sights, and the sounds and the smells from the outdoor cafes … the music playing.”

Adrian Rogers

When: In Spokane, 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays this month and through the end of August. In Coeur d’Alene, 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Where: In Spokane, the carriage leaves from Main Avenue at Wall Street downtown. In Coeur d’Alene, meet at First Street and Sherman Avenue.

Cost: The rides are free and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

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