After a six month break due to the pandemic, horse carriages returned to Central Park on Saturday, October 3, and were met with a crowd of protestors led by NYCLASS and PETA.
The protest focused on both accusations of animal abuse and a lack of mask-wearing among carriage drivers.
Large NYCLASS + @peta protest today as law-breaking, cruel carriage drivers bring horses back to Midtown. NY’ers don’t want animal abuse in their City! Drivers show no regard for public safety or horse welfare. Shut them down! @NYCMayor @NYCCouncil @JustinBrannan @MarkLevineNYC pic.twitter.com/27dMCfUkPU
— NYCLASS (@nyclass) October 3, 2020
While the horse carriage industry has many active opponents in NYC, Frank McCann of the Transport Workers Union Local 100 said in a statement to CBS New York that he “think[s] that the horse and carriages is iconic here in New York City, part of the transportation like the subways and buses are. I think it’s essential.”
Here’s a video the union posted on Twitter, showing a group of counter-protestors advocating for the industry and celebrating the return of the tradition.
— TWU Local 100 (@TWULocal100) October 3, 2020
New York Daily News reports that the total number of protestors was about 20, with one carriage driver waving and smiling as he rode past them.
The publication also notes the positive reactions among tourists and locals who were anxiously awaiting the return of the carriages on Saturday. One wife-to-be rode to her wedding in Sheep Meadow in a white carriage with her parents, while other families were excited to take their young children on rides around Central Park.