The holidays in the city of Frederick will be a little less jolly this year.

The Lambert family, whose horse-drawn carriage rides have become a staple in downtown Frederick during the Christmas season, has decided they will not offer the service this year with the exception of participating in the Kris Kringle Procession and scheduling private rides downtown.

The move comes in response to nearly two years of debates with city officials and protests from mostly out-of-county animal rights activists alleging mistreatment of the horses pulling the carriages.

Despite nearly every equine veterinarian News-Post reporters have talked to stating that the Percheron horses and draft mules the Lamberts own are bred for the exact work they were doing, the protesters managed to make life difficult enough for owner Donnie Lambert that his family decided it’s no longer worth the trouble.

“As a family, we decided that for the safety of the kids and horses, I’m just not going to do it,” Lambert told our reporter last week. “I just can’t put myself through this and I can’t put the kids through this stuff. It’s just too much stress.”

Lambert asked the Frederick Police Department to keep the protesters at least half a block away from his carriage rides in an effort to minimize the disruption to his patrons. But department officials, citing First Amendment rights, said it could not oblige. Instead, the Lamberts will take individual ride requests by appointment via his carriage company’s website.

Ironically, it’s the city that gets hurt the most by losing one of its most popular holiday activities. The Lamberts will move their operation to Mount Airy this month, and their private bookings have already proved to be a boon for business. Lambert told a News-Post reporter that the carriage rides are already booked through December.

We’re respectful of these protesters’ First Amendment rights for free speech, but with the Lamberts’ decision to move on, those protesting likely will claim some small victory. But we don’t agree with them and neither do city elected officials, including Mayor Michael O’Connor who said he supports the Lamberts and hopes to find a way to support the rides in the future.

“We would welcome the opportunity to continue to work with the Lamberts to make rides viable in the city,” he said last week. “That’s what we want. We’re disappointed that a small group of people are having such an influence.”

We agree with O’Connor’s statement and we hope they find a way to bring back the rides.

But for now, it’s a big loss of a much-loved tradition for the city of Frederick. Ultimately, it will be the residents who like this tradition who will feel the loss.

(30) comments

dancing donna

There needs to be boundaries on protesting. For instance, the people protesting need to live in the same area of concern. What rights does the Lambert family have?

The family noted this type of horse was breed for work of this kind. I am all for protecting animals, but where is the line drawn to what a few loud protesters think? No lines or boundaries means this will continue into absurdity. What about the Amish pulled buggies? This is primary means of transportation, not only Amish, but many cultures around the world. I have watched the rise in protesting in my almost 5 decades of life. I think its an entitled mentality, feeling unimportant, and the deep need for feeling heard and significant. If an animal is truly being abused, that is 1 thing, but protests regarding animals that were bred for work, is not using their energy and time effectively. There are many areas of concern like factory farming where animals are truly abused. They don't see the sunlight and are packed in like sardines in warehouses. Let's make a difference where it counts and is honestly needed. Protesting things like Holiday carriage rides de-values PETA and also reflects apathy of local government, wherein, they are willing to not engage or make an effort to keep a lovely and old-fashion tradition going. Frederick is changing quickly and towns that are growing in crime would never consider such activities. These activities represent a safe town, a family town, and a town that appreciates and enjoys the more simple things in life.


I am all for continuing the rides, I was just talking about the verbage




headline should have been "neigh" to downtown carriage rides


Neigh to that. Yours is a very small minority opinion. As such, you should be trying to convince the majority on why your opinion is correct. Harassing children and animals certainly does not achieve your goal. It rightfully drove more support to the Lamberts.


The vocal minority, with their name calling, personal attacks and hate, have driven away yet another slice of Americana while the Frederick City "leaders" did what they do best--nothing! Too bad, those carriage rides will be missed by many.


Let’s hit this from another angle. We are required by law to stay back 100’ from a fire truck. We are required to move over into another lane when police are stopped on a roadway.

Why not make a law, citing safety concerns, that protestors must remain 100’ from horses in downtown Frederick?




We have taken carriage rides around Charleston and Williamsburg.  They are nice and you get to see a lot in a short time.  What do those cities do to protect carriage rides?


It wasn't "jolly," it was scary even for passersby to elsewhere who were verbally confronted for *possibly* being headed toward the carriage ride.


The protesters will probably show up in Mt Airey.


Way to go city leaders. Another win for this administration


This had nothing to do with city leaders. Their hands were tied.


They could have done more but they didn't. Also they didn't need to give them a voice when they did.

Alice Jones

Let’s move past this to focus on truly important issues.


So, a lawful business providing a highly enjoyable service is driven out of town by a mob of PeTA thugs who are not even from here is not important to you? Wow.

Comment deleted.

Don't like the carraige rides? Don't take one. Simple. How in the world do you call someone that harasses children and animals heroes?


Unsure why the last comment was removed. There was no offensive language. Anyway, 'highly enjoyable' is subjective. Just because you and some others like them does not mean everyone does. I am not justifying anyone's behavior but c'mon. We've got a con man at 1600 that puts children in cages and denigrates men and women that have made true sacrifices for this country. Selective outrage, Mr. Horn? Either way, let's focus on what is truly important. Unsure why you seem to take offense with someone that provides a different perspective that you happen to disagree with. That is part of the problem the nation is experiencing these days.


It's not me and some others, sam. It's me and most others. As stated previously, yours is a very small minority opinion regarding the carraige rides. As such, you should try, through facts, evidence, and rational discourse, to convince the majority as to why you are correct. Harassing patrons, including children, and the animals, is hardly rational discourse. You imply that disagreeing with someone is a problem our country faces? No, disagreement and vigorous civil debate is healthy. Screaming at the owners and their patrons, chasing the carriages down the streets hurling vile language, scaring kids and the horses is exactly what you are now decrying, no? Isn't that selective outrage?

I am not discussing the President in this space because he is way off topic. Those that must bring him into every conversation have Trump Tourette's. I repeatedly expressed my opinion about him in previous comment threads where it was appropriate. I guess you missed it. BTW, it's Shorn.

Alice Jones

And how do you arrive at the conclusion to your informal poll? Sampling? Or, most likely, the comments on this article? I brought in the con man to make a simple analogy that most will (should understand). You do not use examples to make a point? Trumps tourettes? Lol. You're making excuses.

Alice Jones

What is shorn? A sheep?


Alice, apparently you do not look at the polls that the FNP does:

Do you agree with the Lamberts decision to cut back on downtown Frederick horse-drawn carriage rides?

9.4% Yes, they posed a safety risk to participants and pedestrians (77)

16.6% Yes, they posed a safety risk to the animals (136)

74.0% No, they were a safe and fun experience (605)

Seventy four percent counts as most. So yeah, my comment stands. As for Trump, what was it an example of that pertained to this story? It is a non-sequitur, and a distraction from the issue at hand. BTW, don't like the guy, and didn't vote for him. It's all here in the archives of the comments. Go look.


Somewhat of around FNP deciding to write an editorial supporting this business. Possibly they shouldn’t give these protesters as much publicity in the past, as is typical of media sensationalism.


Correction: “Somewhat of an irony...”


I find it interesting that the mayor is now finding compassion. For over 2 years the city government has not lifted a finger to assist. The police department and this chief simply do not want the aggravation. Streets are blocked off all the time for special events. This has nothing to do with First Amendment rights. I agree with the owners that there is too much at stake to continue with the carriage rides. Some idiot would likely try to disrupt the activity. Sad that our city has fallen deeper into such a state.


Gutless No leadership




What does this have to do with blocking off streets?


Do you expect the streets to be closed every day there are carriage rides?


City PD has been paying OT to 5 to 7 officers for every ride. So yes, they do care and have addressed it.

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