From noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 14, youngsters (and adults too) are invited to visit with live reindeer named Clarice and Comet during Christmas On Main Street in Wellsboro.
“Reindeer are amazing animals that add magic to the holiday season,” said Cassandra Hoover. She and her husband David own Spruce Run Farm in Bloomsburg where the reindeer live.
Clarice and Comet will be in the parking lot on Main Street between the United Methodist Church and Sherwin-Williams Paint Store.
There, people can visit with them and from outside their enclosure take pictures of the reindeer or of themselves with the reindeer in the background.
This year, visitors can opt for a $10 session to sit or stand with a reindeer up close and personal and receive an InstaPhoto as a memento.
The InstaPhoto is similar to a Polaroid. One of the reindeer handlers will take the photo using a small camera that prints the photo after it has been taken.
Those who choose this magical experience are welcome to ask a friend to use a cell phone or a regular camera to take a photo of that special moment, too. Or, upon request a handler will use the person’s cell phone or camera to take the photo.
“Both male and female reindeer have antlers, They are majestic, beautiful animals that are by nature, calm and soothing. They don’t get excited or upset when they are around people,” Cassandra said.
“Female reindeer are half the size of males. The girls weigh an average of 200 pounds and the boys between 400 and 425 pounds up to 500 pounds. Reindeer can live to be 16 to 20 years old,” she noted.
The farm had a whitetail deer herd thanks to David’s mother Nancy, a wildlife rehabilitator. As the farm’s owners, Cassandra and David continued Nancy’s whitetail deer education programs for the public.
“In December of 2011, my husband and I were in Shamokin when this little girl, about three feet tall, came to our display area to see the whitetail fawns. She pitched her hip, crossed her arms, put her nose up in the air and said, ‘That’s not a reindeer,’ did an about face and off she went. My husband’s instant response was, ‘That’s it! We’re getting reindeer.’”
The couple began looking into what it would take to care for reindeer, from what they ate to how to protect them from disease. Native to the Arctic, reindeer do not have built-in immunity to Pennsylvania parasites and illnesses. Unlike the state’s white-tailed deer, which are wild, reindeer are domestic animals.
In 2015, the first two reindeer arrived at the farm from Indianapolis, Indiana. “Currently we have seven,” said Cassandra. “Our females are nine-year-old Ginger, seven-year-old Clarice, three-year-old Comet and 20-month old Knees. Our two bull reindeer are four-year-old Prancer and three-year-old Dancer.
Appropriately on May 12, Mother’s Day, Comet had a baby boy. We named him Murry Christmas. He is the first reindeer born on our farm and is now eight months old. We are hoping that all four of our females will have babies next year,” Cassandra said. “We are rooting for Prancer, Murry’s dad, but we also know that we may have none,” she said.
“My husband wants at least eight reindeer. Fifteen would allow us to have a small herd at the farm when we take our reindeer to events,” said Cassandra. “This season we are taking them to nursing homes, schools and community events like Wellsboro’s Christmas on Main Street and will be traveling east as far as Brooklyn, New York, south to Philadelphia and west to Pittsburgh and surrounding areas.”