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Oxbow Volunteer Fire Department celebrates season with free sleigh rides


OXBOW — Christmas is about giving back to the community.

With the spirit of the season in mind, the Oxbow Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its fourth annual horse-drawn “sleigh” event, which featured two muscular draft horses.

“Because we ask so much from the town during the year, we decided to give back to them,” said Pamela A. Crumpton, department secretary.

At events throughout the year, Oxbow residents often are asked to donate food and volunteer their time to the Fire Department. To thank them, the fire station set up a day when children can go on free “sleigh” rides around town.

Although it was cold, not enough snow covered the ground north of Antwerp to warrant a sleigh. Instead, two ebony Percheron horses from the Bango Farm pulled a green wagon bedecked with tinsel and red bows through Oxbow.

The fire station has a history of similar events.

“It had probably been 20 years since we’ve done it, so we decided to bring it back four years ago,” President Christopher J. Ferguson said. “It’s a pretty basic kind of thing, but everyone seems to show up and have a good time. It’s good community-building.”

Mrs. Crumpton said that within the first hour on Saturday, about 25 children had visited the fire hall.

“It all depends on the weather,” Mr. Ferguson said. “The very first year we had it, it was zero (degrees), but the weather was calm. We had about 70, 80 kids.”

In addition to the free rides, siblings Larry Morse, Gouverneur, and Susan M. Ayer, Oxbow, portrayed Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

“In 1954, we were Mr. and Mrs. Santa for Halloween, and we won,” Ms. Ayer said.

Curious children had a chance to ask Santa about life at the North Pole, and Mrs. Claus spent the day reading “The Night Before Christmas” to those sipping cocoa at the fire station.

Michelle L. Sawyer’s two children were bundling up to go on their third ride of the day.

“They like rides,” she said. “We come out just for the holiday season. The guy who’s doing the sleigh rides is our cousin.”

She was not the only one at the fire hall with ties to the Bango Farm. Lettie May Brown, 2, spent so much time around the two Percherons that she knew their names were Daisy and Grace.

“My horses,” she said.

Her father, Eric M. Brown, Oxbow, said the horses belong to his father-in-law, Tim J. Bango.

“When she does go out to ride, she usually sits up front with Papa,” Mr. Brown said. “She’s done it since she was 3 days old.”

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