Christmas carriage rides return to the emerald forest

For the past four years, the Odessa Junior League has offered horse-drawn carriage rides in the Emerald Forest Subdivision part of Odessa to allow people to experience the Christmas lights in the area.

The Odessa Junior League started this tradition in 2017 and continued to organize its Christmas carriage rides as a way to raise funds.

“We needed another fundraiser to go along with our Junior League events and this project was started by the Odessa Realtors Council and they passed it on to us,” said the president of Christmas Carriage Rides, Bertha Jaramillo. “It started like four days. Last year, because of COVID, it was our only fundraiser. We had it for seven days last year and this year it’s for six days.

The first three nights of the carriage rides took place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The other three evenings will be from 6.30 p.m. to 8.50 p.m. on December 14, 15 and 16.

The Junior League of Odessa is a voluntary, non-profit organization that gives back to the community in a number of ways, including grants, community assistance funds, partnerships with community organizations, and launching initiatives to fight against child poverty.

Tickets can be purchased online at

The available private cars can be purchased for the following prices: four people cost $ 150, six people cost $ 200, and $ 375 for 12 people.

Rockin RA Carriages Wyatt Greenwood, center, leads a Belgian draft horse down Shiloh Road carrying a family on the Odessa Junior League Christmas Carriage Rides in the Emerald Forest Subdivision on Thursday in Odessa. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

Each trip takes approximately 20 minutes.

“It’s just another way to spread joy throughout the vacation,” Jaramillo said. “All funds raised will be used to serve our community. We have different projects that we support throughout the year and we also have a program called the Community Assistance Fund which we are able to give to non-profit organizations and we can get up to 5,000 $. It’s a great way for people to go out and celebrate the holidays and give back to the community.

Thursday night was the first night of this year’s horse-drawn carriage rides and many families attended.

For some of them, it was the first time they had ridden in Christmas carriages.

Sheila Bell, who was with her family which included three grandchildren, was one of those in attendance for the first time on Thursday evening.

“It will be a new Christmas tradition for our family,” said Bell. “It’s something for our children and grandchildren. “

Bell and the rest of his family have spent their entire lives in Odessa.

“We have seen Odessa go through a lot of changes and this is one of the wonderful things that we have started to do,” said Bell.

Rockin RA Carriages leads a Belgian draft horse and family down Sapphire Street on the Odessa Junior League Christmas Carriage Rides in the Emerald Forest Subdivision on Thursday in Odessa. (Jacob Ford | American Odessa)

The conditions on Thursday night could not have been better as the weather was clear and temperatures were in the 60s.

Kyle Smith, whose family recently moved to Odessa from Colorado, was in Emerald Forest Thursday night with his two daughters Olivia and Evelyn for the carriage rides.

“Someone in our neighborhood posted on Facebook that there were carriage rides going on and I looked it up and it looked like it was fun to do,” Smith said.

Horse and carriages are provided by Rockin RA Carriages, owned by Randy Scannell.

The horses used are Belgian draft horses.

“For me it’s a lot of fun,” Scannell said. “We already have the horses anyway and it’s something fun to do that helps everyone earn a little more over the Christmas season and it gives the public something to do.”

Scannell said they host a lot of events during the year, including weddings, birthdays and quinceaneras.

“We’re still here,” Scannell said.

For the Odessa Junior League, it’s a fun tradition to continue to do every year.

“Kids love to be around the horses and this is a time for families to get out and have fun,” Jaramillo said. “You can drive but it’s not the same experience as being in a car and that makes it special.”

If you are going to

  • What: Christmas carriage rides.
  • Or: Emerald Forest Subdivision, parking is available in the driveway on the southwest side of Shiloh Road and Stoney Ridge Road.
  • When: 6.30 p.m.-8.50 p.m. December 14-16.
  • Price: Four people – $ 150, 6 people – $ 200, 12 people – $ 375

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