PALMER - For the past three days at a snow-covered farm in Palmer, visitors got a glimpse of some of Santa's emergency Christmas preparations.
Amid Christmas lights, hay rides, and helpful elves, one thing stands out that makes this farm especially unique: more than 150 actual reindeer.
Lauren Hardy, head elf at William’s Farm, said the reindeer are there in case Santa needs a little extra help getting tonight’s job done. And the visitors are part of getting everything ready.
“They all get to come out and feed the reindeer for the last minute, right before they're gonna head out and go all over the world, so the reindeer resting up, Santa's in there getting ready to go, and all the elves are loading up the sleigh,” she said. With over 300 visitors yesterday, and more than 1,000 in the past few days, Hardy says it’s all part of getting ready. “It's pretty busy here today, but we're glad there can be all these people here to help us out.”
Visitors have come from around the Anchorage and Mat-Su area, and even from across the country, to see the backup reindeer that Santa is getting ready... just in case.
Erin Wilson, a mother in Wasilla, told her kids the simple truth. “Santa does have backup reindeer, so, [in case] one of his reindeer gets sick… he can still deliver his presents to all the children.” She smiled and looked at the kids playing in the snow. “So they're aware there's backup reindeer.”
Others came from farther away to see a part of Christmas lore come to life. “We’re just coming out here, looking at the reindeer,” Kevin Eastwood of San Antonio said, walking along the fenced-in path through the reindeer farm with his family. “Never seen reindeer before, so it's pretty cool.”
While families were getting a look at the reindeer resting up before their big night, there was also a chance for kids to get one more shot with the big guy himself.
Santa was on hand to listen to kid’s last-minute wishes, and make final preparations for tonight. “I’m here just saying hello to a few people today, and letting them come in and [tell] me what they want, so we can update the list,” he said. “But honestly, the elves are doing most of the work.”
As the snow gently falls at the reindeer farm on Christmas Eve, it's a special time of year. A time when no one is too old to get caught up in the holiday magic.