The Great Sleigh Ride, 1856

A monumental, spontaneous, and continuously intensifying horse-drawn sleigh competition unfolded in Twinsburg in February of 1856. It started semi-innocently enough as a group of young Solon residents embarked on a procession through Twinsburg composed of seven sleigh teams drawn by four horses apiece. The Solonites brandished a homemade banner depicting a nose-thumbing youth and the challenge “You Can’t Come It” (Meaning you can’t beat it).

The next afternoon, Twinsburg residents retaliated by loading fourteen sleighs and went to Solon with their banner “Who Can’t Come It?”, and stole the original Solon banner. A few days later, Bedford sent twenty-one decorated sleighs and returned the banner. Other communities got into the contest and more and more sleighs and banners were brought and stolen. A contest was decided upon between three counties. Almost 10,000 people turned up in Richfield to watch it. Four hundred and sixty-two bobsleds competed and Summit County won with one hundred and seventy-five sleds (Cuyahoga sending one hundred and fifty-one and Medina sending one hundred and forty). They proceeded to paraded through Akron, where the banner was given to Hudson Twp. for having the largest number of teams from Summit County. Later, Medina sent one hundred and eighty-four sleds to steal the banner, but on their way back home, the snow melted and the sleighs had to be hauled through the mud back home. The poem “The Great Sleigh Ride” by John Greenleaf Whittier was written about this unique event.

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