Was that Prince Charming and Cinderella in the stunning antique carriage driven by John Allegra owner of Allegra Farm in East Haddam, Connecticut? No, it was "The Adventure Kids" - Edward F. Nesta and Debra C. Argen out for a leisurely Sunday ride around scenic Lake Hayward.
For the past 40 years, John Allegra has raised horses and collected and restored antique carriages. From the beginnings of a hobby, he now owns the largest authentic livery service in the northeast, and travels from the 28+ acre Allegra Farm located in central Connecticut up to Maine and as far south as Maryland, bringing his carriages for weddings, movie and television work, city and town events, festivals, parades, private functions, and elegant horse drawn funerals.
John Allegra Driving the Team
In mid-July 2014, we visited Allegra Farm and took a romantic carriage ride along scenic Lake Hayward with John Allegra as our handsome coachman whose impressive collection of antique carriages, which number close to 100, have been featured in numerous movie productions including Steven Spielberg's Amistad, The Time Machine, and Kate and Leopold; documentaries including Sigmund Freund, Mark Twain, Mozart, and Abraham Lincoln; television work including Sex in the City, Ed, the Today Show, and The Buccaneers by the BBC to name but a few.
Stagecoach on the set of a movie
For our ride, John selected a matched pair of Norwegian Fjord horses, brothers named Billy and Bob, to pull our carriage, from his stable of 26 horses. The horses were gorgeous, brown dun with a dark chocolate dorsal stripe that ran from their forelock through their tail, with brush cut, stand-up manes.
Edward and Norwegian Fjord horses Billy and Bob
An interesting note about the Norwegian Fjord horse is that it is "one of the world's oldest and purest breeds. It is believed that the original Fjord Horse migrated to Norway and was domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations at Viking burial sites indicate the Fjord Horse has been selectively bred for 2,000 years. The breed still exhibits strong survival instincts and remains healthy, fertile, and useful well into its long life. Fjords are extremely efficient foragers, and thrive equally well in the pasture or stable, adapting easily to the weather conditions of their environment, be it hot and dry, or cold and wet." (Information on the Norwegian Fjord Horse is from the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, www.NFHR.com)
We felt as if we had stepped back in time as we rode in the attractive and comfortable carriage over the pretty tree lined roads around scenic Lake Hayward admiring the views and waving to passersby, with John wearing his period coachman's hat accompanied by Hilda Del Gaudio at his side, and an adorable dog named Pete who is a bit of a celebrity himself, having appeared in many movies with, and without John.
Debra and Edward on a glorious Allegra Farm Carriage Ride
John is passionate about collecting and restoring antique carriages and his vast collection of close to 100 includes a Hansom Cab, Wicker Phaeton, Winter White Victoria, Caleche, and a "Cinderella" coach to name but a few.
Allegra Farm provides a very unique type of authentic livery service and offers many different experiences to choose from including Country Carriage Rides in open carriages or in coaches enclosed with glass windows for an afternoon ride with the family or for a moonlit ride for romance.
Scenic Carriage Ride
They also offer Old Fashioned New England Hayrides on wagons that can accommodate up to 20 people, perfect for family get-togethers as well as group or corporate outings, especially as you can enjoy a campfire after the ride and bring your own food for a complete outdoor experience.
Allegra Farm Hayride
Romantics at heart, we could imagine how perfect it would be to take a Traditional New England Sleigh Ride with your special someone in an antique sleigh in the winter over freshly fallen pristine snow, bundled up under lap robes, wearing hand muffs, perhaps sipping a "libation" from your flask to keep warm, and experiencing the beauty of the season. It would be also be perfect to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, special occasion, or a proposal. Bring on those sleigh bells and perhaps marriage bells as well!
Traditional New England Sleigh RIde
For the ultimate romantic wedding, they offer New England Horse Drawn Carriage Weddings for couples living in New England or in the Tri-State area. They have many carriages from which to select, and you can also select your team of horses to create the perfect setting for your grand arrival, complete with drivers and footmen in period attire.
John Allegra and Debra Argen
They also have Funeral Carriages for those who want a memorable send-off for their loved ones, in an authentic 19th century horse drawn Brownell hearse accompanied by a coachman and footman.
Whichever ride you select to experience, one thing is a given, you will have a very memorable time with Allegra Farm. When not working on, or driving period carriages and coaches, you can find John riding one of his many cars or motorcycles, his other passion with Pete riding alongside him wearing a motorcycle hat and goggles.
John Allegra and Pete
For more information about Allegra Farm, please visit their website, www.AllegraFarm.com.
69 Town Road
Colchester, Connecticut 06415
Telephone: +1-860-680 -5149
P.O. Box 455
East Haddam, Connecticut 06423
Read more about Old Saybrook and the area in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Spas, and Adventures sections.
Debra with the Horses
For more information on Connecticut, please visit the website, www.CTVisit.com.
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