If you've lived in town for any length of time and have traveled the roads in Riverside and Old Greenwich, then you've probably come across Blaise Anello trotting down the road on his horse and carriage. It's very distinguishable by its safety pole with tennis ball tip to keep automobiles at a safe distance. On occasion, you may see Blaise riding with his dog as he rides through the highways and byways.
Mr. Anello riding at Greenwich Point.
SOURCE: Greenwich Time
Blaise Anello's father was an electrical contractor who emigrated from his home town in Sicily to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia in Africa, just before World War II. Blaise was born on May 22, 1942, and was raised in North Africa. As you can imagine, with the war looming, there was no gas, no construction work and food was scarce. His father bought a horse and carriage, leased a farm and grew his own fruits and vegetables. Young Blaise took an interest in horses, and helped take care of the animals.
Anello moved to New Rochelle NY with his parents, sister and brother when he was 17. By this time he could speak Italian, French, Spanish, a Sicilian dialect and some Arabic. He attended Yonkers High School, where he studied electrical drafting and design - following in his father's footsteps. In 1965, he returned to Tunisia as an American citizen, and served as a field engineer helping to build a new airport. He met his wife, Anne, there, and they were married. Blaise bought two horses so they could ride together. Unfortunately Anne never embraced horse riding.
When Blaise and Anne returned to the United States, he saw a carriage house for sale in Hillcrest Park in Stamford. It consisted of a half-timbered garage, with servant's quarters above. The estate house had been built in the 1990s by entrepreneur Joseph Dillaway Sawyer. Anello embarked on a "do-it-yourself" project, and turned the utility building into a true home. There's a stable behind the carriage house, which comes in quite handy for sheltering his horses. The complex also serves as the home for A-Electric services, a business started when he moved to Havemeyer Park.
As you can tell, Blaise is very passionate about his hobby. He will take his horse and carriage out for 2 to 3 hours at a time. He has a sleigh (with bells) that he takes out in the winter snow. He has "a surrey with a fringe on top" that he decorates with American flags, and rides in the annual Old Greenwich-Riverside Memorial Day Parade. On a normal ride through town he trots at about 15 miles-per-hour. He likes to go out twice a week, but avoids extremes in temperature. Blaise reminds people to drive slowly and avoid using automobile horns to prevent spooking the horse. He could have turned his hobby into a popular business, but likes the hobby too much to commercialize it.
Anello has also begun collecting assorted carriages. There are eight of them in his collection. He has an antique donkey cart, as well as an antique sleigh. At one point he even traveled to Sicily to research carts and harnesses. Blaise would rather barter to further his hobby - especially to get maintenance for his horses, carriages and stables. He once obtained a cart in exchange for some electrical work he completed. And once he gave a carriage away to a local blacksmith in exchange for shoeing services. Like many other equestrians, he has traveled to Amish country to buy horses, harnesses, carriages and related items.
In January 2011, Blaise and his horse and carriage made headlines. After a post-Christmas blizzard, Anello's horse "Big Boy" was startled by some headlights of an oncoming car as he was riding through Havemeyer Park. The horse panicked and broke free. The Greenwich Police later retreived him on his way toward Cos Cob and returned him to his rightful owner.
I, for one, hope Mr. Anello has many more years of riding on his horse and carriage. It reminds me of the "old days" in town, before automobiles. He's providing a window into our (local) past history. His love of horses is actually a treasure for our community.
Thank you, Mr. Anello!