Thursday, July 16, 2015

Santa and the Reindeer!!

Saturday morning just absolutely ranks up there as the highlight of the tour thus far!!  We got to have a special visit with the reindeer!!  At the Santa Claus House there's one Santa who sits in the chair in the House; he's the one we met the night before at the Salmon Bake and whose picture I included in the previous post.  There's a different Santa, though, who does various promotions for the Santa Claus House, and who also works with the reindeer.  So we were able to meet him and spend some time with the reindeer.  It was really special, as we got to talk a lot to the reindeer wrangler, who studied at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and she tends the current herd of eight.  She explained that, though some say the reindeer is a domesticated caribou, this is not technically correct.  While they are related, sort of cousins, as she explained, the reindeer is in fact a different species.  We got to feed them some fireweed and get up close and personal to some of them.  Santa Rich explained that the older members of the herd are not too friendly, so they keep them in a separate pen.

Anyway, this Saturday just happened to coincide with the annual Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk for the Arthritis Foundation, and several of us from the caravan participated.  Chuck had told us earlier that they welcome costumes, so we got some bells to tie on our shoelaces, I wore my "Checkin' My List" red t-shirt and Santa On Vacation hat.  Trisha wore her Mrs. Claus hat, of course, and we dressed Sophie up as Sophie the Reindog, with a red shirt, some jingle bells and a big red flower on her shirt. And guess what, Sophie won Second Place in the doggie costume contest, and received a basket of goodies from a local pet store that was a sponsor of the event.  And she walked the whole way, except for one brief period when she took a break and I carried her.  It was a lot of fun and raised money for a good cause.  The honoree of the event was a 6 year old girl from North Pole, Alaska who was diagnosed with arthritis when she was about a year old.  It was pretty scary for her parents, and it took a while for doctors to diagnose it, but she is now receiving regular injections and can do a lot of typical 6 year old activities.  We walked part of the way with a young family with two young children who wanted pictures with Santa and kept talking to me the whole way about what they wanted, and the little boy especially was concerned that I knew what he meant when he said he wanted a Green Monster.  His T-ball team is the Red Sox, and he wants a model of the Green Monster from Fenway Park!!  What a hoot!  Several of our group ran, but most of us walked.  But it was a lot of fun.

After the race, we visited the Santa Claus House.  The staff had talked to the store in advance to tell them they had a Santa traveling with them, so the store manager told the staff they didn't want another Santa in the store to confuse the kids.  So I worked it like I have in similar situations in the past--I took off my Santa On Vacation had, put a jacket over my red shirt, and when I saw their Santa, told everyone I was his little known twin brother.  Worked like a charm!  It's aways fun for us to go to Christmas themed shops and see what they have, and you can be sure we are brining home several souvenirs with North Pole on them!!

the reindeer barn
 The big Santa statue by the highway in front of the Santa Claus House
 Love this!

Donder, Blixen, Vixen and Prancer
Never knew that the two sections of the reindeer's hoof are flexible and can spread out like toes

Feeding the gang!

Their regular feeders
But Santa Rich let us give them a treat of fireweed

Santa Rich with the deer wrangler

Here we are sharing some stories from our times in the Red Suit!

Here's Santa Rich posing with members of the local roller derby team--they won best team costume.  Santa Rich's suit was made in 1937 for his father, who portrayed Santa until he died in 2005, and Santa Rich took over the family business!
Santa Dog--first place winner

the Ginger Bread Family
With Anna and Elsa!

Sophie and her friend Daisy
Who was wearing a Tar Heels shirt!!
Sophie made some new friends, here an 8 week old labradoodle

Sophie and her basket of goodies

This cute little girl had fun petting Sophie

Here we are on the walk
The water station was sponsored by . . .
. . . Santa's Senior Center--what a hoot!
Right in front of North Pole Middle School--what a riot to see North Pole signs everywhere!
Takes a lot of wood to keep the ole someplace warm through the long winters!
This little yorkie was wearing red goggles!  Her owners said they asked the Santa in the store to let them bring the dog in for a picture, but they weren't allowed, so we did a picture out in the parking lot.

Here we are in the store with my "twin" brother Santa.

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