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Santa's Reindeer at Hersheypark Cleared to Fly on Christmas Eve 2022

Today, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill joined Santa Claus and his nine reindeer at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane to announce that they have received a clean bill of health and are cleared for take-off on December 24.

“Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, the care of ZooAmerica veterinarians, and Santa’s due diligence, families can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning."

The reindeer, answering to the names of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph, received clearance to fly to Pennsylvania from Dr. Robert F. Gerlach, Alaska’s state veterinarian. This Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and Permit to Ship allows them to fly from rooftop to rooftop in PA for the purpose of toy delivery.

“I’m grateful to Dr. Gerlach for his thorough inspection of these reindeer,” said Dr. Brightbill, Pennsylvania’s state veterinarian. “According to their certificates, despite one’s glaringly red nose and their magical ability to fly, word is that they’re in extraordinary health!”

Such certificates are required as an assurance that contagious diseases are not carried across state lines. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians supply these certifications for animals residing in PA before they’re transported across state lines. 


See All Nine Reindeer at Christmas Candylane Through Jan. 1, 2023

For nearly 40 years, Christmas Candylane has been a holiday tradition for thousands of families, with many holiday experiences you can’t find anywhere else. 

Guests can see 5 million lights throughout the Park, which is the most in Pennsylvania, plus enjoy holiday thrills on select rides and coasters, and, of course, visit Santa and his reindeer. In fact, Hersheypark is the ONLY place in the Northeast where guests can get an up-close look at all nine of Santa’s reindeer during all hours of operation through January 1, 2023.

Santa has entrusted the ZooAmerica team to take special care of his reindeer during the holiday season by providing them with a healthy diet, exercise and a spacious barn to call home.

Top 5 Reindeer Facts

Beyond their famous names and sleigh-pulling skills, reindeer are fascinating animals. Did you know these facts?

  1. The largest herds of reindeer are found in Alaska, Scandinavia and Russia, also known as Lapland. But, the most famous reindeer live at the North Pole.
  2. Reindeer are well-equipped for the cold weather we are experiencing today. They have two coats of fur on their bodies, plus fur on their noses, lips, and under their hooves.
  3. In the wild, reindeer like to eat Lichens, the moss that grows on rocks and trees. We feed the reindeer a pellet diet and plenty of their favorite snack called Beet Feed. They also love apples, so we recommend that children put out nine slices of apples for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve instead of carrots.
  4. Both male and female reindeer have antlers, which makes them different from deer. In general, they lose their antlers every year.
  5. If you listen closely, you will hear the reindeer making a clicking noise when they walk. The tendons in their feet make a snapping sound that they use in the wild to keep in line. This noise is where “Up on the rooftop, click, click, click” originates.