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Earth Angel

Local company creates an elaborate ride.

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At Carriage Rides of River City, the diamonds are definitely in the rough.

"We have the only barn where you can find diamonds and manure," says David Sydnor, owner of Carriage Rides of River City in Memphis.

River City is the home of a new gold carriage decorated with more than 2,000 imitation diamonds and other jewels, red and gold garlands, and dozens of angel figurines. The carriage's lavish decorations began more than six months ago for a wedding. Since then, the carriage has gotten even more elaborate.

"We added the angels for the hell of it, because it was a Catholic wedding," Sydnor says. "The carriage is finished, but we'll be fixing decorations continually."

After adding the angels — including two imported from Italy, others came from Family Dollar — Sydnor didn't stop decorating, eventually working on the carriage for more than 200 hours.

As the horses pull the carriage around the city's streets, visitors often take pictures. Sydnor says men especially notice the carriage.

"This is a pretty, but masculine, carriage," he says. "If this carriage was a scent, it would be English Leather. Men are more willing to ride around in English Leather than Chanel No. 5."

After adding the angels, Sydnor submitted paperwork to copyright the angel carriage's unique design.

"We're happy to inspire other companies in town, but that's about it," Sydnor says. "Without prejudice, each of our carriages are distinctly different from the other carriages in Memphis."

The angel carriage will remain a permanent fixture in River City's fleet for the rest of the year. "When you come to Memphis and get a carriage ride, it's different than any other place," Sydnor said. "People say they've never seen anything like it."

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