Home Haddonfield News Free walking tours come to the borough

Free walking tours come to the borough

First Friday in Haddonfield events now have another activity for restless feet.

Mark Simmons and Mike Carwile are giving back to their community with free tours in conjunction with First Friday festivities.

The 2007 Haddonfield Memorial High School graduates recently formed “Free and Friendly Tours,” walking tours that are given on a tip basis.

The tours are hosted daily in Philadelphia.

“We’ve been doing this since May 1,” said Carwile. “This is our first First Friday. We founded this tour company in Philadelphia but we are looking to get our name out there to people in the area.”

The August tour, dubbed “The Shops and Stories of Haddonfield,” was put together speedily, he explained, with planning beginning a couple of weeks prior to the event.

“I think it went great,” Carwile said.

The borough is a good fit for a walking tour, he explained, between the influx of people and the depth of history.

Beginning in Kings Court at 7 p.m., the pair, garbed in bright blue shirts and armed with a sign and brochures, promoted themselves with smiles and the occasional jig.

Within a few minutes, a group had formed and the walking began.

Meandering down Kings Highway, all the while sharing stories of times past, including the coming of the railroad, the impact of the Quakers and some Revolutionary War skirmishes, the crowd stayed reeled in for the more than an hour-long lesson that ended at Hadrosaurus, the town’s famous dinosaur sculpture that was erected in 2003.

“Elizabeth Haddon was a strong woman,” Carwile said during the tour of one of the best-known historical figures of the borough. “She made a life for herself here.”

As the tour came to a close with the sky darkening above, Carwile suggested tour-goers head across the street to A Taste of Olive.

“They’re very serious about their taste of food,” he explained.

Carwile and Simmons, who met while in high school, partnered after Simmon’s stint in Budapest, Hungary.

“I traveled around quite a bit,” he said of his time after graduation, with countries listed on their brochure including Estonia, Hungary, Turkey and Germany. “I found a lot of companies that were interesting.”

While working in a hostel, he overheard the opinions of tourists and how much they enjoyed having friendly, knowledgeable and local guides.

“I thought, well, that’s a really neat concept,” he said.

He spoke with Carwile, who had decided that academic research at his perch at the University of Chicago wasn’t for him, and their adventure began.

The duo, who like learning the stories behind objects rather than just walking by, said they hope for a larger crowd in September.

To learn the history of Haddonfield, attend the tour at the next First Friday event on Sept. 7. Visit www.ShopHaddonfieldNJ.com for more information.

Contact Mark Simmons and Mike Carwile at (877) 558–9671 or freeandfriendlytours@gmail.com. The duo hosts regularly scheduled tours of Philadelphia in addition to Haddonfield’s First Friday tours. Soon, they will begin offering “A Walk with Ben” tours. Visit them online at www.freeandfriendlytours.com.

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