photograph by Brian Gomsak

In 1928, two boys sat in a workshop in Tryon, huddled over a toy horse. Tryon Toymakers had become known across the state for creating miniature horses on wheels, known as Tryon Horses, but the boys imagined something bigger — much bigger. Under the direction of owner Eleanor Vance, they crafted a massive version of the town’s signature horse for the annual Tryon Horse Show parade. The towering toy was a hit: Each year, it was proudly paraded down the streets, until a fire destroyed it in 1939. Now, the fifth and final Tryon Horse has made its permanent home in the town center, where a new tradition was born: During the annual Christmas Stroll, the town gathers to lay a wreath on Morris the Horse — the centerpiece of Tryon Christmases past, present, and future.