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Wednesday, December 5, 2018


From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, youngsters and adults can visit with two live, female reindeer named Clarice and Ginger during Christmas On Main Street in Wellsboro.
The reindeer 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 take pictures from outside their enclosure.

“Clarice is six and Ginger is eight. Reindeer can live to be 16 to 20 years old,” said Cassandra Hoover. She and her husband David own Spruce Run Farm in Bloomsburg.

“Reindeer became part of our farm mainly because of the actions of two people, my mother-in-law, Nancy and an unknown little girl,” said Cassandra.

“David’s mother was a wildlife rehabilitator,” Cassandra explained. “A Game Commission officer brought a whitetail deer with a broken hip to the farm to see if Nancy could help it. He had named the buck Ark (Almost road kill). The whitetail won Nancy’s heart. After a local artist took photos and did paintings of him, Ark’s image could be found on lap blankets and pillows. Ark was the beginning of the whitetail herd on the farm.

As owners, Cassandra and David continued Nancy’s whitetail deer education programs, which included allowing the public to take photographs and pet whitetail deer fawns.” In December of 2011, my husband and I were in Shamokin with some of the fawns when this little girl, about three feet tall, came to our display area. 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. I looked over my shoulder at my husband who’s instant response was, ‘That’s it! We’re getting reindeer.’

“We didn’t get reindeer right away. We did three and a half years of homework to make sure we could take care of them. We became members of the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association, attended conferences and met people who owned reindeer and traveled to reindeer farms to learn more about these animals. We wanted to know everything about them from what they eat to how to protect them from disease.

“Reindeer are native to the Artic so they do not have a built-in immunity to the parasites and illnesses they can encounter in Pennsylvania," Cassandra said. "Reindeer are domestic animals unlike white-tailed deer, which are wild. 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.

“Our first two reindeer arrived at the farm from Indianapolis, Indiana in 2015,” she said. “Currently we have six reindeer. Clarice, Ginger and our two bull reindeer, two-year-old Dancer and three-year-old Prancer seasonally travel to visit community events. Our two youngest female reindeer, two-year-old Comet and eight-month old Knees are currently visiting at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown for the holidays.

“Female reindeer are half the size of males,” Cassandra said. “The girls weigh an average of 200 pounds while the boys weigh between 400 and 425 pounds and could reach as much as 500 pounds.”

“Based on antler drop and a poem that begins ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ and talks about ‘eight tiny reindeer,’ I am pretty sure that Santa’s reindeer are girls,” Cassandra said.

“My husband wants at least eight reindeer. Fifteen would allow us to have a small herd at the farm while still traveling to events. This season we will be taking our reindeer to nursing homes, schools and community events like Wellsboro’s Christmas on Main Street. We will be traveling east as far as Brooklyn, New York, south to Philadelphia and surrounding areas and west to areas surrounding Pittsburgh."

A young girl meets a reindeer at Spruce Run Farm in Bloomsburg.

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