Kerstyn Countryman, 4, sat on her knees, a blanket wrapped around her, and peered out the side of the horse carriage. Kerstyn's blond pigtails stuck out of her jacket's hood, which she really didn't want to wear.
"Wow!" she said when the steady clop-clop of the horses' hooves and the rickety carriage wheels pass by a twinkling snowman on the steps of a house in Carson City's historic district.
She is enchanted by the Christmas lights, but her aunt and granny want to do a little Christmas caroling.
"Do you know 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town'?" asked her aunt, Michelle Countryman.
"Yeah," Kerstyn said. Her face was starting to get a little pink from the cold, but still smiling.
Michelle and Jane Countryman opened the song binders and sang along softly to the music blaring from speakers affixed to the sides of the carriage. Kerstyn just mouthed along; no sound escaped her lips.
"Yes, but she can't sing it," Michelle said, then laughed.
The Countrymans were passengers with Hoofbeats and Carriages, a Carson City business that usually is a touch-of-the-West addition to a wedding or party. Owner Steven Summers has also taken visitors on a horse-drawn tour along the Kit Carson Trail.
Summers is branching out this holiday season. He has taken his love of the open road and Christmas carols into a new venture: singing while trotting through west Carson City in a two-horse open carriage.
Friday night, Summers wore a Santa hat over his leather cowboy hat. He was drinking Java Joe's holiday-blend coffee with two shots of espresso.
Ain and Bella, Norwegian Fjords, pulled the carriage. It was decked out in festive rainbow and white Christmas lights.
The carriage passed the Governor's Mansion on Mountain Street, and Kerstyn moved to the other side of the carriage to gaze at Santa and his reindeer stationed on the front lawn. Michelle, an office worker in Mound House, bemoaned a low battery in the digital camera when she wanted to capture a picture.
"This is nice because it's not something we usually get to do," she said.
Summers steered the carriage into the First United Methodist Church's drive-through live nativity, a free event the church has hosted one weekend in December for the past few years. The horses joined a long line of cars snaking through a path lit by milk jug luminarias.
Kerstyn liked the donkeys and camels the best. Jane Countryman, her grandmother, said Kerstyn has been raised on a ranch and knows all the cows' names.
Summers steered the horses away from the camels.
"I don't want any incidents," he said as the carriage passed the camels then baby Jesus in the manger.
Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
If you go
What: Christmas caroling rides
When: Through Thursday, departs at 6 and 8 p.m.
Where: East Telegraph and North Carson streets beside Java Joe's
Price: $15 a person. Advance tickets available by calling 882-5533 or at Java Joe's.