OCEAN CITY- Ocean City officials this week approved horse-drawn carriage rides on the Boardwalk on Valentine’s Day weekend, but withheld judgment on a proposal to allow the horse-and buggy rides in the downtown area throughout the summer.
The Mayor and Council on Tuesday approved a request from Randy Davis of R&B Ranch to conduct romantic horse-drawn carriage rides on the middle section of the Boardwalk on Saturday and Sunday, February 15-16. The carriage rides will run from the Paradise Hotel at 9th Street and head north to 17th Street, where the carriage will turn around and return to 9th Street. The rides will be offered by R&B Ranch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on each of the approved days.
“Carriage rides are a wonderful family activity on the Boardwalk and that should be encouraged,” said Councilmember Brett Ashley. “I’m all for romance, so I move to approve this request.”
The council ultimately approved the request with a 6-0 vote, but not before some concerns were allayed over potential damage to the new Boardwalk surface. Town staff expressed some concerns over the possibility of horseshoes creating divots on the surface of the Boardwalk, a major renovation of which was just completed last year. However, Davis explained he did not anticipate any problems given the current condition of the shoes on his horses.
“Divots are sometimes caused by new horseshoes because they have sharp edges,” he said. “All of the shoes on my horses now have worn down to the point they need replacing, so there shouldn’t be any damage to the Boardwalk.”
Councilmember Margaret Pillas questioned whether the request should be approved as a one-time event and not a recurring event each year without future approval.
“Let’s try it for one year and see how it works, then bring it back if we need to,” she said. “I don’t see any reason to deny this. We already allow weddings on the beach and Boardwalk and other things like this.”
While carriage rides for the Valentine’s weekend were approved, not action was taken nor was any discussion held on the potential for expanded horse-drawn carriage rides in the downtown area in the summer. Although he has yet to make a formal request, Davis intends to seek approval for daily carriage rides at a later date. The tentative plan calls for two or three carriages to be operating each evening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The route would start at 2nd Street and the Boardwalk and travel west through traffic signals at Baltimore and Philadelphia and across St. Louis Ave. to Chicago Ave. where it would proceed with views along the bay before returning to 2nd Street.