Point-To-Point to honor Weymouth with carriage parade

The late George A. "Frolic" Weymouth (shown) founded the Winterthur Point-to-Point Antique Carriage Parade in Cap: 1978. Leadership passes to a new chairman, John Frazier Hunt, this year for the first time in its history. (Courtesy photo.)

With a nod to his longtime friend, the late George A. “Frolic” Weymouth of Chadds Ford, John Frazier Hunt of Spring City will lead more than two dozen regal, horse-drawn antique carriages through Winterthur’s 39th annual Point-to-Point racecourse on Sunday, May 7, continuing the grand procession now bearing its founder’s name, the George A. “Frolic” Weymouth Carriage Parade. He will be joined by Gloria Austin, international carriaging champion, and P. Allen Smith, national tastemaker and new Winterthur Board of Trustees Member.

As the new chairman of the Carriage Parade Drive, Hunt said he was humbled and honored to take the mantle from his dear friend, who passed away in April 2016, just days before the 38th  Point-to-Point.

“This is my 25th year of never missing one of these weekends, it’s been so valuable to me. It’s been a part of my life,” Hunt said, noting that Frolic’s gregariousness and charm drew participants from across the country and Europe. “If I wear a size 8 shoes, Frolic had size 80 shoes. I’m just standing in the shadow of a man I had the great pleasure of knowing, and I’m proud to tell you we have a whole bunch of folks coming to participate this year. I’m so humbled and tickled by this.”

Point-to-Point draws over 15,000 people to the 1000-acre former country estate of Henry Francis du Pont. Widely considered the Brandywine Valley’s most stylish spring sporting event, Point-to-Point features a day of professional thoroughbred steeplechase racing, exciting entertainment, elegant tailgating, and sumptuous food and beverage offerings in addition to the magnificent horse-drawn carriages.

It will be a watershed moment when Hunt, atop his grand 1895 Park Drag originally built in London by Henry S. Whitlock for the Gilby gin family, leads the parade from Frolic’s former home at Big Bend and proceeds along the traditional, winding route to Winterthur. Frolic initiated the parade on a whim 39 years ago, inviting a few friends to ride with him from his home. The crowd enjoyed the spectacle so much that he returned with a few more friends the next year, and the next, and every subsequent year for 37 years.

Each year, the carriage parade enchants guests as the highlight of the day’s pageantry. As seen in the December 2012 issue of Town & Country magazine, at Winterthur’s Point-to-Point Frolic created and led the largest procession of horse-drawn antique carriages in the nation. In 2013, Top Events USA, which identifies the most popular events around the country, named Point-to-Point one of the best events in the United States. Point-to-Point is the second largest professional sporting event in Delaware and is sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. Prize purses for the three hurdle races are $15,000, $25,000, and $15,000.

Hunt said most carriagers from years past will participate again this year. In addition, joining the parade will be acclaimed international carriaging champion Gloria Austin. Austin, who founded the Equine Heritage Institute and the Equine Heritage Museum in Ocala, Florida, has a collection of more than 130 rare American and European carriages and coaches.

“A lot of them are tried and true friends of Frolic’s and mine. I wrote them all personal letters and said ‘Please come, we’re keeping the tradition alive.’ I saw it as a challenge for all of us,” Hunt said. “Before Frolic passed on, he suggested to me that he wanted me to take an active role in the carriage parade. Then Winterthur reached out to me and, of course, Frolic’s son (McCoy ‘Mac’ Weymouth).”

Hunt’s affiliations include the New York Coaching Club, British Coaching Club, Four-in-Hand Club, The British Road Club, Four-in-Hand Club of Philadelphia, Brandywine Driving Club, American Driving Society, Carriage Association of America, and Master of Fox Hounds of Bellwood Hunt Club.

He noted that although “there won’t be another Frolic,” he believes Frolic would be delighted to see the carriage parade continue.

“I would say that Frolic would reach out and put his hand on everybody’s shoulder and, with a twinkle in his eye, say ‘Good to see you with the ribbons (reins) in your hand,’” Hunt said.

In compliment to the carriage parade, a splendid display of 50 antique automobiles will be on view. Fun and elegant shopping will be found in the Point-to-Point Marketplace, while children will be delighted and entertained all day in the kids’ Winterthur Hunt.

 

 

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