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A pair of antique ice skates that will be on display at Old Sturbridge Village Saturday, Feb. 5, at an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rally and an antique ice skate exhibit. (click for larger version)
January 27, 2011
STURBRIDGE — New Englanders love sledding and skating, but few people know how these favorite winter pastimes developed over the course of nearly two centuries.

On Saturday, Feb. 5, Old Sturbridge Village will celebrate the history of these activities with an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh rally and an antique ice skate exhibit presented by the Antique Ice Skate Club of Meriden, Conn.

"We are very excited to be holding both of these events at the Village," said OSV Marketing and Communications Coordinator Kate Brandt. "This is the first time we have had such a large amount of skates on loan from the Antique Ice Skate Club."

Beginning at 11 a.m., several horse-drawn sleighs that are between 80 and 120 years old will be guided by dozens of drivers competing in a variety of categories. The different types of sleighs featured will include bob sleighs, Portland and Albany cutters, racing sleighs, freight sleighs, and more. The term bob sleigh refers to the double runner devices on a sleigh known as bobs, which make them more maneuverable and easy to turn sharply.

The horse-drawn sleigh rally will continue for the better part of the day, as drivers will compete in such divisions as the Sleigh Dog Division and Currier and Ives Division. OSV historians will also be on hand to discuss the history of horse-drawn sleighs and how sleigh bells were used for safety purposes, not just for decoration.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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