What is going on in Newport RI

Coaching weekend, Newport RI

Posted by Darlene McKenzie

  A Weekend of Coaching Returns, August 20-23, 2009

Just a stones throw away from the Ivy Lodge bed and breakfast an authentic 19th century coaches drawn by matched and highly-trained teams of horses will return to Newport from August 20-23, 2009, in the triennial renewal of a Weekend of Coaching. The public will enjoy free viewing of the colorful and historic coaches every day, as they drive through the streets of Newport and the grounds of the Newport Mansions, celebrating and preserving a century-old sporting tradition.  Approximately a dozen coaching teams will come to Newport from around the country

There will be a free-to-the-public driving exhibition on the grounds of The Elms starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, August 22.  The weekend will culminate in the formal Coaching Dinner Dance at The Breakers on Saturday evening. 

The tradition of coaching grew out of the 18th and 19th century mail runs in England, which later made their way across the Atlantic to the United States.  The horse-drawn mail coaches were eventually replaced by railroads, but nostalgia led to the development of coaching as a sport.  The Coaching Club of New York was formed in the latter part of the 19th century, eventually becoming part of the social fabric of Newport in the summer. The Wetmores, the Bells, the Vanderbilts and the Belmonts were all active members, bringing their coaches together to go to the races, the polo games, and the Casino.

The two types of open-air vehicles used in the sport of coaching-a Road Coach and the slightly smaller Park Drag-employ a team of four horses.  All seating is outside, with the driver, known as a "whip," sitting in the slightly elevated right front seat, and the whip's wife or female relative taking up the "box seat" on the left.  The rear bench of the coach holds at least two specialized footmen called grooms. Two center benches can hold up to 10 passengers.

See the routes of the daily drives and suggested viewing spots

Tickets for the dinner-dance at The Breakers are $400 per person, and reservations are required.

Purchase tickets online, or call (401) 847-1000 ext. 140.

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