Clad in a thick snowsuit, Robert Boyle stood at the southwest corner of Central Park yesterday, adjusting the blanket and reins wrapped around his black horse, Lester. As he shooed away pigeons from Lester’s bucket of food, he asked chilly pedestrians if they would like a carriage ride. He said customers flock to the area after snowstorms for an idyllic view of the park.
“This time of year and the holidays you see more people here,” said Boyle, 46, a carriage operator who lives in New City, N.Y. “The cold doesn’t bother them, they come here expecting it.”
The National Weather Service predicts 5 to10 more inches of snow will fall on New York City by tomorrow morning— making this storm the third to hit the city since last month.
Despite the recent snowstorms, Boyle said he doesn’t expect business to suffer with today’s weather.
“Bring it on,” Boyle said of the snowfall. “Its only snow and you have to get by.”
Kieran Emanus, 39, a carriage operator in the same area, said he isn’t concerned about the snow but is worried about the low temperatures. If the air drops below 20 degrees, he is not allowed to take the horses out.
“I am constantly worried about the weather and watch the Weather Channel,” said Emanus, of Brooklyn, a full-time operator for 14 years. “You have to be hopeful.”
Emanus said there have been six days when it was too cold to work this winter. He could not speculate how much money he lost on those days, but said that he gives about three a rides a day and charges between $20 and $50 per ride.
“You can’t get frustrated,” Emanus said. “I just make sure my cable is working so I can watch television.”
Boyle agreed that low temperatures are the only hindrance for business in winter. He said that the horses are powerful enough to pull the carriages through the snow-covered streets and the city clears the roads before the day starts.
“People always ask if the horse’s feet get cold,” Boyle said. “They don’t have feet, they have hooves, and they are wearing steel horseshoes. They are perfect for this.”
Jenny Rafter, a 31-year-old tourist from Ireland, said she wanted to take a carriage ride in the snow-covered park because it was too cold to walk and she enjoys the view.
“I wanted to see New York in the snow,” she said after finishing her carriage ride through Central Park with her husband. “I love it. Its magical.”
Boyle said that despite the chilly temperatures outside, passengers keep warm without lots of gear.
“Some people use the blankets,” he said. “But the romantics use body heat.”