With Thanksgiving now behind us, it's time to officially roll out the Christmas season.  For many people, that means watching those romantic holiday movies that are shown non-stop on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime TV.  Those kind of movies are very popular.  This year, fans will be able to watch one that has a special connection to this area.

Tony and Sampson are Percheron draft horses that live at Whispery Pines Percheron Farm near Kingsville in Ashtabula County. Tony and Sampson play an important role in a Christmas movie being released on December 1.  The horses received their chance to become movie stars when their owner, Kellie Rettinger, received a phone call last December.  Her phone said the call was from Hollywood.

"And of course, I assumed it was just some scam, or a spam call or something like that,” she recalled. “But, I'm like, 'I'll go ahead and answer it.’  And I did.  It really was Hollywood, California calling and they wanted us to be in a movie."

The movie is titled, 'A Merry Single Christmas.' It would be shooting in the Cleveland suburb of Berea.  The movie producers researched area horse farms that conducted carriage rides. The producers found Whispery Pines, operated by Kellie and her husband Sam.

"Mainly, they wanted a beautiful white fancy carriage and beautiful fancy horses to pull it and a great driver.  There was going to be quite the multiple scenes,” says Kellie.

The producers told Kellie that the carriage scenes would be very important parts of the movie. She jumped at the opportunity.  What she failed to tell her husband was that he would be the driver and he would have some lines in the movie.

"I was told she would be doing the acting and that I didn't have to worry about any of that. So, I was like 'OK,” recalls Sam.  “I think she knew what the other answer might have been if she would have told me right up front that I needed to be an actor."

The producers had confidence in Sam. They told him he could even ad lib his lines if he wished. Sam nailed it.  Also, Sam had demands even though he was acting in his first role.  The producers wanted him to wear a top hat in his role of carriage driver.  He refused.

"Yeah.  I'm a cowboy and when I do my carriage work, you're getting a cowboy hat.  I tell all my customers, ‘I hope you don't mind the cowboy hat because that's what I'm going to wear.’  And that's what we did,” says Sam.

Kellie and Sam say it's the horses that are the real stars. It was a one day shoot with some scenes involving 30 takes.

"The horses were just so patient and willing.  They did a fabulous job.  We couldn't have been more proud of them that day,” says Sam.

A Merry Single Christmas will be released on December 1 on Roku, Amazon, Pluto, and Tubi.

Kellie and Sam operate carriage rides throughout the year. If you want to ride in the same carriage that was featured in the movie, just give them a call.  Information can be found on the Whispery Pines Facebook page.