For many people, Christmas on the Vineyard wouldn’t be the same without the sound of bells and hooves making their way past the shops in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.

Fred Fisher with his Belgian draft horse team. — Alison L. Mead

On Sunday, a small group at Tisbury Marketplace climbed aboard Fred Fisher’s wooden hay wagon and took their seats behind two Belgian draft horses, Jim and Roscoe, who were decked out in studded harnesses and sleigh bells for the day.

The wagon lurched away with a steady jingle and smiles all around.

A few crows flew off under a clear blue sky as the team pulled onto Beach Road and clopped its way up to Main street. After heading past the shops and holiday decorations, it turned down Union street, which was closed for the afternoon. Another small group boarded at Fella’s on Union.

Passengers sipped coffee and hot cocoa and took pictures as the team made its way past the ferry terminal and back to the Tisbury Marketplace. People in cars and on sidewalks waved and shouted holiday greetings along the route.

The annual village hayrides stopped around 2012, but resumed last year with support from several Vineyard Haven businesses. Squash Meadow Construction, LeRoux at Home, The Collection and Crane Appliance are again sponsoring the rides this year.

Vineyard businesses help sponsor the hayrides during holiday season. — Alison L. Mead

The idea is partly to bring more business to the downtown area, but also to carry on a well-loved holiday tradition. The rides haven’t changed much since 1986 when they began, and organizers expect them to continue for the foreseeable future.

Fred Fisher, owner of Nip ’n Tuck Farm in West Tisbury, held the reins on Sunday along with his sons Brett and Shane. He took over the tradition from his father, Fred Fisher Sr., who died 17 years ago.

“I’ll tell you, it hasn’t changed too much,” said Mr. Fisher. “Hayride’s the hayride.” But it has downsized somewhat since the beginning, when the Fishers would work four or five Saturdays in a row around the holidays. This year they offered the rides only for two weekends in December. Sunday’s ride in Vineyard Haven was the last of the season.

In past years, the rides were sponsored by the Tisbury Business Association, which dissolved around 2012, leading to the two-year hiatus.

“We weren’t as together as a community,” said Jane Chandler, owner of the Beach House in Vineyard Haven and a former association member. “We all noticed the change and that we need to work together.” She said she expects the association to regroup in the new year.

Meet Jim and Roscoe. — Alison L. Mead

She was glad the hayrides were back, but was unaware of any plans to expand them in the future. “I think they are perfect just they way they are,” she said.

The Vineyard Haven route has remained the same since the beginning, although the horses, wagon and riders have changed. Many remember the hayrides from their childhood and now enjoy the experience with kids of their own.

“It’s our daughters’ first winter in the cold,” said Wendy DeBettencourt, who rode along with her husband, Robert Butcher, mother Donna and two young daughters Athena and Rhea on Sunday. This is the family’s first Christmas on the Vineyard since moving to the Philippines eight years ago.

Guntars and Abby Lakis, along with their son Rory, had missed the hayride last week as a result of hockey practice, but were bundled up in the wagon on Sunday. “Today we were determined not to miss it,” said Mr. Lakis, who held a large mug of coffee in both hands. “They have the most beautiful horses,” he added.

Last hayride of the season; see you next year. — Alison L. Mead

Back at the marketplace, Jim and Roscoe quietly nuzzled each other as Mr. Fisher brushed their legs and the next group climbed aboard the wagon. The previous Sunday was busier, he said, but today was better for the horses since it was colder. “They can’t take off their winter jacket when it’s 60 degrees,” he said.

Mr. Fisher recently bought a two-seater sleigh and may offer sleigh rides later in the winter, depending on the snowfall. “We’ll see how it goes,” he said. On Christmas Eve he will offer his traditional afternoon hayride to his neighbors the Douglases up the road. But the village rides are still the heart of the tradition.

“It’s not just the people that ride,” Mr. Fisher said, noting that many passers-by also enjoy the experience. “They just love to hear the sound of the horses going down the street — and a lot of older people, they remember when they were young and there were horses on the street all the time. They enjoy seeing it again, like old times.”