Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Propane progress!

Ok, we have one propane jeep that is great.  Since it is so clean burning, we have decided to convert six more!   Keep you all posted on the progress!  We will be keeping our fingers crossed over here

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Winterhaven Rides is working on Going Green!

Here we go again!  Winterhaven 2014 is just around the corner.  The Winterhaven Festival of Lights 2014 has published the dates and it is time to paint the wagons!  As you all remember, last year was a year of transition from mule power to jeep power.   We at Winterhaven Rides are now working on trying  to creating something to be proud of.   This year we are introducing propane power to our fleet of jeeps.  Although they will not all be converted in 2014, our goal will be to convert all of our fleet should propane prove a good option for pulling our wagons this year.  We want a cleaner and greener Winterhaven!  So, come out and support us in this change, come ride the wagons, donate food to the Tucson Food Bank and enjoy all the hard work that the Residents of Winterhaven have done!  Happy Fall!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trying to look toward a better tomorrow for us all... 
It is Tuesday December 17th. Tonight is a drive through night so we are working on getting all our ducks in a row for the remainder of the festival. We have been in winterhaven and motorized for 3 nights now. After working on Research and Development for our future we have deduced that the goal for our company is to go green for Winterhaven 2014. We found that the biggest disadvantage to using motorized vehicles in the festival is the exhaust. We hate it! After some research, we have found that it would be possible to convert all our jeeps to propane, which is significantly cleaner burning. We believe it is imperative to promote a clean environment for all of you who attend both on the rides, walking near our rides and living inside of winterhaven. Hoping this is possible!! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It is almost here...  2013 Opening Night is just around the corner!

We are busy answering questions, reserving people and getting all the wagons ready for Saturday, Dec. 14th...   Opening Night.  The generous outpouring of support of what we do is so greatly appreciated.  Having all the positive encouragement and hearing so many stories of touching family traditions that we are helping to create is what this Festival is about.  We are grateful to be part of this amazing and magical event.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

No Good Deed goes Unpunished...  

So, what does that mean anyway.  Well, until recently, I have never given that statement much thought.  However, I am thinking of it more and more these days.  This is why...

When we go about our lives, we all seem to follow a similar sort of moral code.  We drive carefully on the streets, stop and go when the light allows, park in one spot at the store and not the handicapped spot, pay for our groceries and don't eat them while shopping (except the grapes, that's a grey area).  We don't tell lies we can't back up, we generally don't slander or badmouth people.  We try to pay our bills, we keep our heads down and our eyes open. Sound familiar?  It does to me...  It seems that people generally do all of this and try to stay out of the line of fire.  Right?  Now, what if your faced with a situation that requires you actually do something to make things right?  To take a stand?  For example, maybe your kid is in school and they see someone being picked on.  What is your advice to them?  Just keep your head down and stay out of it?  This will guarantee your kid doesn't become the object of ridicule.  It is the safe path.  You know saying something will make them a target, right?  No one wants that, hmmm...

Ok, now assume for a minute that you are faced with a moral decision that will cost you a lot of money.  What if you know that the likelihood of hurting someone has increased tremendously over the years in your business.  However, you also know that you will make more money if you just keep your head down and your mouth shut.  What if you know that saying something to change it could cost you your business?   What if you know that the general public is not aware of the danger that has developed due to existing factors.  What do you do then?  Hmmm.... 

Now, apply all this to Winterhaven  Rides.  So, everyone seems to want to blame someone for the changes that have developed in Winterhaven.  Who is to blame?  Who did it?  Why change if there hasn't been an accident?  Why?

Well, lets look at it a little closer.  What is more lucrative, change or keeping the mules in Winterhaven?  Of course, the mules are a great draw... that is a no brainer.  Mules are definitely more lucrative than any other possibility.  The bonus is that mules are very cheap to maintain!  This is one more reason we love them.    So, financially... mules are definitely the best choice.

Ok, what about accidents?  Why change if there hasn't been accidents?   To start with, there is always a public view and an insiders view.  Who says there hasn't been any accidents?  Hmmm...  maybe we should do a little homework on that one people.  I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who know more about that.  Still, assume for a minute that it was true?  What justifies waiting until someone is hurt?  When the streets are completely full of people we look like fools trying to keep our teams in there.  Anyone educated in driving teams knows this.  We look ridiculous keeping our mules in an event that has simply outgrown them. 

Now, what has changed?  The teams have been in there forever??  Why change now?  Lets look a little at how the Festival of Lights works.  The committee in charge of this event are volunteers.  This was a little Festival years ago.   It was manageable and fun for them.  When the economy changed, funding of this event became the responsibility of the Winterhaven Neighborhood.  The City of Tucson was no longer able to fund.  In order to keep this event alive for all you guys, they used vendors and sponsors to pay for the expense of the event.  They placed Kettlecorn, Hot Cocoa, and Cupcakes in the center of Winterhaven.  They invited the Tombstone Trolley to be a vendor to help chip in.  Then, of course, us mule vendors.  Although the mule vendors had been there for many years, the new vendors were a great addition to the atmosphere of the Festival.  They are also helpful in paying for the police, barricades, and insurance for the event.   They are helping to keep your Festival returning year to year.  So, what has changed?    People are making an evening of the beautiful displays, the goodies available at the square, and the fact it is free to walk.  Therefore, the number of people inside has increased with the arrival of the vendors inside of the event. 

Ok, so... knowing what has changed over the course of the last few years... what are we to do?  We kept our heads down and played the game.  How long can we keep up the fa├žade that it is no different than years passed?  We have been kidding ourselves.   Is it fair of us to subject the visitors walking inside the event, the Winterhaven committee, and the Residents of Winterhaven to the liability of our mules inside an event that has simply outgrown them.    Well...  we tried.   Morally, we just couldn't keep the cat in the bag.  So... who is to blame?  Us for standing up and saying that driving teams through thousands of people is becoming a problem... what can we do about it?  The Winterhaven Committee, who are volunteers trying to provide an amazing and fun event for Tucson, for requiring that we go mechanized?  The mules for being mules?  The families for walking inside and enjoying the hard work of the Winterhaven Residents?  The Winterhaven Residents for having displays that are so good that they get crowds of people around their house... aka "dangerously great displays"?  The vendors in the center for being there, but actually helping to keep this festival a possibility?  I guess it's us....  because we let the cat out of the bag. 

So, this is why I am beginning to understand that no good deed goes unpunished...    


Monday, November 18, 2013

Why do the mules factor into the decision of Safety inside of Winterhaven?

Hmmm.... that's a tricky one....  Lets start with a team of mules working happily together.  They are very strong and powerful.  Remember, they LOVE to pull.  They have all this muscle and now they have something to do with it!  When they work, we have to consider personalities and who they will work next to.  We drive either a 2 up hitch or a 3 abreast hitch.  If we put a team of mules together that have dominance issues where one is trying to be the boss, only one will pull and the other two will comply with the dominance threat and keep back a little.  This is a problem because you no longer have a "team", you have one pulling and two threatened.  Anyone who drives teams knows that you have to put together a team of mules that get along, like each other and work well together.    When they are working content, they are easy to drive, easy to catch to drive the next day, and altogether a joy to work with.  When you put them into Winterhaven and they are pulling their wagons, they love it.  They enjoy their work and everything is good.  When we add the crowds that are moderate, it isn't an issue because we can work our way around them as you have seen for many years.  Now add a stifling crowd.  This forces the driver of the teams to make a choice... they must try to negotiate safely through the crowd or they must stop in order to clear the path to travel through.  As we pass through Winterhaven, we do everything in our power to keep our teams rolling along as they should be.  Of course, we have obstacles that require our stopping.  This is a given.  When it is a minimal number of obstacles and stops, the mules let it go and don't become concerned.  If we begin to stop and go often, the mules become irritated with the interruption in what they believe is a destination they are heading for.  This irritation is exhibited in many different behaviors by the mules.  Some of them will rear up or jump when we stop too many times, communicating to us that they want to get going... they are excited to keep rolling and that they don't know why we are holding them back.  Others will start to goof around and mess up the harness, chew on the lines, hook their headstall on the hames of their neighboring mule, others will push the team from side to side simply communicating their displeasure at the hold up.  Still others will kick out to express their lack of patience.  Of course, this is normal and natural behavior.  This is their instinct and their only means of communication to their surroundings and handlers.  We, as being the people responsible for the safety of the visitors around our mules, have to accomplish a delicate balance between clearing the crowd so we can keep our stops to a minimum and stop when we have to but not too often as to maintain a good attitude in our mules.  This has been a reasonable request during all the years we have worked this event.  In December 2012, it had become clear to us that this delicate balance was becoming something that was more and more difficult to achieve.  We tried our best to ignore this problem.  We tried our best to "play the game" and say everything is fine and that this is a normal environment for driving teams.  When the season approached... we again faced the gravity of this situation.  What is the right thing to do?  Do we say something?  Do we risk losing our vendorship for the sake of asking for a better path for our teams inside the event?  Or... do we do what so many do... be quiet and grateful for the chance to drive inside again.  We decided to do the right thing and voice our concerns.  Clearly this was a difficult choice for us as we have all our teams, whom we have fed all year, ready for the event.  We have all our wagons rigged with hydrolic brakes for driving teams.  We have all our triple trees and double trees ready to hook our mules to.  We have all 21 sets of harness ready and waiting for the mules to wear.  We have trucks ready to haul our teams.  We have 2 20 foot horse trailers and one 28 ft horse trailer waiting for hauling 21 mules a night.  We have 24 diapers ready and waiting to be used.  We have all our mule shoes and borium purchased and ready to put on our mules feet.  Taking all this into consideration we asked ourselves....  what do we do? 

What would you do?

So... Why a Jeep?  What is up with that?

We have had family who lived inside of Winterhaven for years.  When I would go and pick up my kids after our 9pm ride would depart our site, I loved listening to the clip clop of the last wagons moving through Winterhaven.  It is a beautiful community, truly a Festival of Lights!  It was pure MAGIC!  We agree...  Now that we have reached these crossroads in our wagon power, I thought about that moment...  hearing that magical clip clop moving through the quiet streets.  I thought about my nephews in their rooms hearing that sound echo against the blacktop.   It had been something that was pure magic.  We have been deeply saddened by these thoughts of what the amazing residents of Winterhaven will stand to lose.  About that little extra magic of the hooves against the blacktop disappearing as all good things seem to do.  We struggled to come up with something else?  Does anything compare to the sound of hooves?  Simply put... no way.  Not for you, not for us, not at all.    Now... I knew we all had to face this reality.  If we stop using the mules, what will happen to the people who love this time honored tradition?  Is it the tradition of the mules?  Or is it the tradition of the Festival of Lights?    My feeling is that it is the Festival of Lights.  This Festival began long before the mules arrived.   All of you living inside this unique neighborhood created this Festival by continuing the tradition of C.B. Richards started in 1949.  Our hats off to you.   This is what we struggled with when faced with the reality of changing our mule power to machine power.  We wanted to not disrupt your homes.  We realize there is already the Tombstone Trolley running through which is mechanized but not loud.  We thought that a small vehicle that is no louder than the Trolley would help maintain that peace and beauty inside your neighborhood.  This is why we decided on a jeep.  It is as quiet as any neighbors car driving through, it is open so we can easily participate with our clients, and it is American Made since we are patriotic.  This is what we have come up with.  We appreciate the idea of a tractor, they rock.  However, we wanted to offer something different... something unique.  We could play music so what you hear in your homes is Christmas Carols as we pass.  Or, we can be quiet.  Or, we can put our mules bells on the wheels of our wagons to jingle along.  We realize the time has come for  change and that is heartbreaking to me.   We ask you all to help us make this a change you and your families will be able to enjoy someday. 

Will it ever be the same as that magical sound of hooves echoing across the neighborhood? 
No way...   
I'm sure this is one thing we can all agree on....