IDAHO FALLS — A holiday tradition has returned to downtown Idaho Falls. For the next three Saturdays, your family can hitch a ride around town on a horse-drawn trolley.
These trolley rides, provided by Roadapple Trolleys, have become a beloved part of the Christmas season for many local families. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated some new precautions and restrictions, the trolley rides still provide a fun, free-of-charge holiday activity that families love.
“We’ve heard from many folks who have reached out and said (a trolley ride) is a tradition their families have been doing for years,” said Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation which oversees the event. “I think that the reason why it’s so popular and well-loved is that it does bring you back to a nostalgic feeling, a time when there were horse-and-buggy carriages downtown.”
This year will be a bit different. Stage 2 COVID-19 guidelines mandate that there can be no gatherings of more than ten people and that social distancing be followed at all times. Therefore, group size is limited.
That wasn’t the only change.
“Another difficulty of this year is that we are requiring reservations,” Smith said. “All of those slots are full. The filled up pretty quickly because it is a big tradition for families.”
While the reservations are full, Smith said accommodations can be made for walk-up patrons. Contact the IFDDC through Facebook for more information.
Roadapple Trolleys has also helped to keep social distancing protocols by providing a second carriage for rides. That means there will be more horses, some Clydesdales and some smaller breeds, downtown this year. The horses are a big part of the magic of these rides.
“For people who don’t get to see that kind of a large horse, it’s pretty exciting,” said Smith. “There’s jingle bells all over their equipment they need to pull the trolley. It’s a very fun, very holiday-ish experience that’s unique and you can’t find it anywhere else.”
The trolley rides couldn’t be possible this year without sponsorship from Brady’s, who sponsored all three weekends and ensured that the rides are free of charge to all families.
While staging the trolley rides in the 2020 environment has been challenging, Smith said the experience is still one that’s well worth having.
“It’s a lot of fun to ride the horse-drawn trolleys through Downtown,” she said. “Bundle up, get some hot cocoa, jump on the back of the trolley and ride around Downtown. I have a twelve and a sixteen-year-old and we’ve been riding the trolley for years. It’s fun to have pictures of the kids growing up on that same cute little trolley with those same horses. I think that’s how it becomes such a tradition.”
Horse-drawn trolley rides through downtown Idaho Falls run the next three Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Pickup is at Civitan Park on Park Avenue and B Street. Walk-up guests are welcome but please contact the Idaho Fall Downtown Development Corporation for details.
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