One of the North Pole reindeer is taking some time off to join the carousal team in the Tri-Cities for the holiday season.
The reindeer dubbed “Spirit” was unveiled Wednesday, marking the first time since opening the Gesa Carousel of Dreams in 2014, a new animal has been added.
Spirit took over 200-hours of hand-carving by a local Tri-Citian and carousal board member Mike Thornton. If the name sounds familiar, he also carved the WSU Cougar which is already part of the carousel. The wooden deer was then sent to Republic, Washington, for Sue Baldwin to paint and give the saddle a holiday feel of red and green with golden bells. If you look closely, the antlers look real, and Hodge says that’s because it is.
“For authenticity, the horse tails that are on our carousel platter now, are actual real horse hair. We wanted to do something authentic on the reindeer,” Thornton goes on to say, “We were fortunate to get a donation of actual real reindeer antlers out of Alaska, so those are part of the reindeer.”
Executive Director Parker Hodge says the reindeer was chosen because of the organization’s second busiest weekend of the year, where real reindeer come for a visit.
“The idea was add a reindeer, because we’ve seen so much popularity in that, when we bring them to the building,” says Hodge.
Thornton’s time, the paint job and the antlers were all donated to the carousal and any extra costs were sponsored by O’Brian Construction in Kennewick.
The reindeer will only be on the platter until January 15th and then swapped out with a horse, until next season. As for any more animals added in the future, Hodge says the carousal is not ruling anything out but has no official plans in the works.
Kids can take a ride on the new animal for the first time Thursday night from 4-7 p.m. at the “Polar Express” event. Admission is a $5 donation or a toy or 2 can food items, which will all be donated to local non-profits.