Wethersfield, Conn. – Friends of Animals’ strong objections to the town’s plan to provide horse-drawn carriage rides drew statewide television coverage last night. Speaking before the Wethersfield Tourism Commission, Nancy Rice, Outreach Coordinator for Friends of Animals, urged that the exploitative and archaic practice “be left behind in the history books.”

In follow-up interviews for both CBS’s Susan Raff of WFSB and Fox’ Tom Benemann of WTIC, Rice suggested that the $25,000 state grant for the carriage rides program be put to better use than to be deposited into the coffers of a horse-for-hire company.

Rice stated, “We are confident that the town officials and citizens of Wethersfield can find other ways to preserve and herald the historic richness of this lovely town without resorting to a tradition that exploits free-living animals for entertainment.”

Rice cited the growing momentum to ban horse-drawn carriage rides in cities throughout the world, including Key West and Palm Beach, Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Camden, New Jersey; Toronto, Canada; Beijing, China; Paris, France; and London, England.

State Senator John Fonfara (D-Wethersfield), who initiated the carriage rides program, claimed it will add to the “ambiance” of the town. Fonfara praised peaceful evening walks through Wethersfield’s historic district. Perhaps Fonfara should look to this pastime for a more positive inspiration, such as guided walking tours of the tree-lined lanes and colonial homes.

The public will be allowed to speak again at the Wethersfield Town Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 6, at 7:30 p.m., Community Center, 30 Greenfield Street, Wethersfield, The Banquet Room. Please ask town officials to find more enlightened and creative ways to accentuate their New England heritage than returning to the days when animals were forced to pull people through the streets. Let’s leave that piece of history behind.

The contact information for Wethersfield town officials:

Wethersfield Town Manager- Bonnie Therrien

Wethersfield Economic Development Manager-Peter Gillespie

Mayor Andrew S. Adil (D)

Dep. Mayor Christine T. Fortunato (D)

State Senator John Fonfara (D-Wethersfield)

State Representative Antonio Guerrera (D-Wethersfield)

State Representative Russell Morin (D-Wethersfield)