Lawrence's unique parade brings entries from far and wide.
It didn't take much horse sense to figure out what drew so many Lawrence residents downtown Saturday morning.
The third annual Eldridge Hotel Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade brought horse and mule-drawn carriages and their owners to Lawrence to celebrate the holiday season.
"These are wonderful, wonderful people," Rob Phillips said. Phillips is the general manager of the Eldridge Hotel and parade organizer. He spent Saturday morning helping the carriages line up.
"They put a lot of effort into it," he said of the participants. "We like to recognize them for that. Some of them have come a long way to be here. We have entries from Fort Worth, Omaha, Columbia, Missouri, you name it."
There were 23 equestrian powered vehicles the first year of the parade, Phillips said. This year, more than 100 entries wound their way down Kentucky on to Seventh Street before making the final turn on to Massachusetts.
The only requirements to be in the parade are a high-wheeled, horse or mule-powered vehicle, Phillips said.
"We hope this draws visitors to the community," he said. "As far as we know, it's the only parade like this in the country."
The parade is organized as a family event.
"Older people will remember something of days past," Phillips said. "And younger kids get to see something they don't get a chance to see. It's an opportunity to learn."
The learning experience is fun for the drivers as well. Parnell Baldwin brought his family from Kearney, Mo., for last year's parade and with his pair of percheron horses, returned this year.
"We really enjoy it," he said. "The hospitality is just wonderful."
Horses are kept at the Douglas County Fairgrounds the night before the parade, and their owners are treated with rooms at the Eldridge Hotel. Events start early the day of the parade, even for onlookers.
Lawrence resident Kim Moreno arrived downtown at 8:30 a.m. in order to find a front-row parking spot.
"This is great," she said. "These are beautiful horses and beautiful rigs."
The parade is part of the Festival of Poinsettias, which continues throughout the month.