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Sleigh bells ringing

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Updated: January 6, 2014 7:02PM



A sleigh ride can transform winter into wonderland. Whether for a fun family outing, a unique group get-together, or a romantic ride for two, there is something magical about a sleigh ride.

There are places not too far away where you can have this special winter experience. At Childs’ Farm in Plymouth, rides are just $3 per person, and at Forest View Farms in Tinley Park, Ill., you can take a driving lesson and then take the reins on your own.

John Childs learned to drive horses at Lake County Parks’ Buckley Homestead, where he and his wife, Sue, were volunteers. Enjoyable experiences at Buckley Homestead were part of the journey that led to the couple buying a farm in Plymouth, their own team of horses, their own bobsled, and offering rides to the public.

“We usually use our team of dapple gray Percherons on the sled. We also have a team of Belgians, but the Percherons look better,” according to John, who described the experience to me.

He said that a great day is when there is good snow on the ground, the temperature is not too cold and there is a light snow falling. Childs added that the sleigh bells add to the ambiance.

“We were lucky find a company in Massachusetts makes the bells. They’ve been in business from the late 1700s. There is a local Amish man that does our harnesses and he set the bells on them. Their sound is a nice part of this nice, old-fashioned experience.”

Child said that their rides seat about eight people, depending on how much they are “bundled up.” There is also a bonfire and there may be hot chocolate or hot cider to warm folks up while they wait for their turn to ride. Visitors can also purchase a miniature sleigh bell as a souvenir.

“Our rides are about 20 minutes long, mostly because that’s about how long anyone wants to be out there in the cold. The rides go around the fields on about 20 acres of their property.”

Bobsled rides at Childs’ Farm cost $3 per person. John recommended that those interested should call (574) 936-9262 in advance to confirm that the conditions are right for bobsleds as the weather there can be very different than in other parts of northwest Indiana. He also suggested that riders dress warmly, and BYOB, as in “bring your own blankets.” Though there are a limited number of blankets available, he says “the more, the better.”

Childs Farm is located at 14118 Peach Road, about eight miles south of Plymouth. Go online to www.childsfarm.net for more information about bobsled rides and their year-round activities at the farm.

You can go dashing through the snow while you take the reins of a sleigh at Forest View Farms adjacent to the Cook County Forest Preserves in Tinley Park. Its “Drive It Yourself Package” includes a two-passenger sleigh, a 15-minute driving lesson, a 25- to 30-minute sleigh ride and an escort for $70.

For information go online to www.fvfarms.com or call (708) 560-0306.

Buckley Homestead may offer bobsled rides later this winter. Call 696-0769 after mid-January for information.



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