Dreams of horses
As the sound of heavy hoofs clacks off the pavements of city streets, pedestrians along sidewalks suddenly turn their heads to see the strange sight of a horse pulling a buggy past businesses and homes in and around downtown Williamsport.
In coming months, a horse and carriage may not be such an odd occurrence at all.
Billtown Buggies is a glimpse into yesteryear when times were simpler and travel slower, and the four people who started up the enterprise feel it’s a good fit in a historic community such as Williamsport.
“You feel like royalty,” said William Caprio as he sat inside the carriage being pulled through Brandon Park. “That’s what we are trying to bring to people.”
With winter finally over, Caprio and the others see business picking up.
“We think this will go,” he said.
Billtown Buggies made a kind of debut during the recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Williamsport.
Caprio said the carriage rides can be an attractive part of celebrations such as weddings, proms, sweet 16 parties, and other occasions.
“Eventually, I’d like to do tours of Williamsport, said Tara Proctor, who along with her boyfriend Mike Kilmer and Mike Allison make up the other three partners in the venture.
They feel horse and buggy rides will be a big hit with visitors during Little League week in August.
Kilmer said he and Tara came up with the concept of launching Billtown Buggies.
Proctor, who has a farm in Cogan Station, noted she’s no stranger to horses, and this enterprise seemed only natural.
“This is a way of life for us,” she said.
Ben, the 9-year-old horse assigned the task of pulling around the buggy, at one time worked in New York City, where carriage rides have long been a popular diversion for tourists.
“He’s extremely well trained,” Kilmer said. “He knows city traffic.”
Proctor noted that Ben will not bear the entire burden of the business, however.
Other horses are being trained for the work.
Proctor said the hope is to grow the business to have more than one buggy operating.
Plans also call for partnering with local restaurants to offer customers rides.
The carriage was located on Craig’s List and after bringing it back to Williamsport the four had it fixed up and ready to use.
The buggy is kept in storage in a former livery stable on Dubois Street next to one of the city’s brick streets.
Proctor noted the sound of the horse’s steps along the brick street, which beckon to the days when all streets were unpaved before the onset of motor vehicles. Kilmer said Williamsport is ready for this kind of business.
“They do it in New York City, why not here?” he said.
Up to four people can ride in the carriage.
Riders can wrap in lap blankets for trips on cooler days.
The carriage top can be either up or down depending on the weather or the customer’s desires.
Rides are $50 per half-hour.
More information is at 570-772-1079 and www.facebook.com/billtownbuggies.