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Holyoke parade horse restoration still on track

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  • Students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus move "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, into their shop on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Richard Rodriguez, a sophomore in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus, talks about his childhood memories of “Dobbin,” the Yankee Pedlar horse. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus move "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, into their shop on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Holyoke High School Dean Campus Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing instructor Mark Cipriani helps move move "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, into the shop on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus move "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, into their shop on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, arrived at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, for a makeover by students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program. The fiberglass horse, which for years stood on the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade route, at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, was slated to "draw" a carriage carrying the Grand Colleen and her court on the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus move "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse, into their shop on Tuesday morning, March 10, 2020, for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School’s Dean Campus move “Dobbin,” the Yankee Pedlar horse, into their shop March 10 for a makeover. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick’s Committee of Holyoke float. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Richard Rodriguez, a sophomore in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus, talks about his childhood memories of "Dobbin", the Yankee Pedlar horse. The fiberglass horse, which stood for years on the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is being refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • "Dobbin", the fiberglass horse that stood for years in front of the former Yankee Pedlar on the route of the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade, arrived in an actual horse trailer for his makeover by students in the Holyoke High School Dean Campus Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Manny Martinez, left, and Richard Rodriguez, sophomores in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus, talk about the arrival of "Dobbin", the fiberglass Yankee Pedlar horse, for a makeover at the school on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The horse, which stood for years on the Holyoke St. Patrick's Parade route at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, was to be refurbished for the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float in this year's parade. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Richard Rodriguez, a sophomore in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus, gets a first close look at the repairs needed on "Dobbin", the fiberglass horse which stood for years in front of the former Yankee Pedlar at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • “Dobbin,” the fiberglass Yankee Pedlar horse, arrived at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program March 10 for a makeover. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • "Dobbin", the fiberglass horse which stood for years in front of the former Yankee Pedlar at the corner of Beech and Northampton streets, is getting a makeover by students in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at Holyoke High School's Dean Campus. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float committee chair Bill Quesnel, left, and member Duncan Mackiewicz attach fabric to this year's entry parked in the Carpentry program bay of the Holyoke High School Dean Campus on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Members of the St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float committee work on this year's entry parked in the carpentry program bay of the Holyoke High School Dean Campus on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The carriage is on loan from Muddy Brook Farm in Amherst. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • St. Patrick's Committee of Holyoke float committee members, from left, Paul Soja, Duncan Mackiewicz and Bill Quesnel attach fabric to this year's entry parked in the Carpentry program bay of the Holyoke High School Dean Campus on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The float features a carriage on loan from Muddy Brook Farm. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 3/29/2020 6:30:30 PM

HOLYOKE — There’s a detail about the old Yankee Pedlar restaurant that Richard Rodriguez has etched into his memory forever.

Rodriguez, a sophomore at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus, said he remembers visiting his dad, the restaurant’s head chef, almost every day as a little kid. But it’s not the food or ambiance that sticks out to him today — instead, that title is given to Dobbin, a landmark horse who stood proudly outside of the restaurant until 2017 when the store closed and she was moved to the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.

“This right here is also a symbol of Holyoke,” said Rodriguez, 15, on a recent Tuesday in March after he helped move Dobbin off her horse trailer and into the school’s auto shop for restoration.

The original plan was for Dobbin, who is in desperate need of repair, to be cosmetically restored by students in an auto collision technology class to be part of the Grand Colleen’s float in this year’s St. Patrick’s Parade, with a full restoration project scheduled for the fall. The parade has since been postponed to next March due to COVID-19, but students will still restore Dobbin for her triumphant return in next year’s parade, said Kathie McDonough, operations manager at the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.

“As soon as the kids are able to go back to school her rehab will take place — that’s for sure,” McDonough said.

McDonough won’t say exactly where Dobbin is now in fear of her safety — the dilapidated equine has apparently been stolen, taken for joyrides and been the subject of numerous scavenger hunts in the past. Once Dobbin’s fixed, McDonough said, she’ll be brought back to the merry-go-round until next March’s St. Patrick’s do-over, and then right back to the carousel.

Mark Cipriani is the auto collision technology teacher at the high school and said his class has helped in restoring a sleigh now at the Holyoke Heritage State Park. He said he has restored horses similar to Dobbin in the past.

Speaking before the cancelation, Cipriani said students were first going to do just a cosmetic touch-up on Dobbin to get her ready for the parade, clearing any loose debris, clean her and put a fresh coat of white paint to fix her peeling facade. He said in the fall, students will engage in a project where they will do a complete resurfacing and restoration of Dobbin, who is made of fiberglass.

“Our auto collision class, because we specialize in automotive refinishes and fiberglass and things like that, we can put a really high-quality, long-lasting finish on it and it’s going to last for 100 years,” Cipriani said.

McDonough said the same colleens and float will return next year, meaning Dobbin will be “pulling” a carriage on which the Grand Colleens will sit on their float, which was titled the “Rocky Road to Dublin.”

David Brueshaber, a carpentry instructor at the school, said his class is in charge of helping put together the float. There’s not as much carpentry involved with this float, he said, but in years past kids have built intricate designs, such as castles. He said the kids have been watching the parade for as long as they’ve been in Holyoke and working on a part of it gives them a sense of pride.

“It’s just a really cool experience for them,” Brueshaber said. “I think it kind of ties them into the community a little bit because now they feel like they’re part of it — they’re not just living in the city but they helped with something that everybody is looking at.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.

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