Santa Claus can be found at stores and shopping malls throughout the holiday season, but it’s not often that he has real, live reindeer with him.
Thousands of people came to Brannen Outfitters in Perry on Saturday, where they could gander at three reindeer while waiting to see Santa. Jarrod Brannen, who co-owns the store with his wife, said they did the Santa/reindeer combo last year shortly after the store opened, and it drew a big crowd then. This year’s crowd, he said, was even larger. He estimated that at least 6,000 people would come by the end of the day.
Not long after Santa and Mrs. Claus set up shop inside the store, the line to see Santa was about 200 long.
Esther Mitchell, of Perry, had her sister keeping place in line while she let her 3-year-old granddaughter Ellie play on an all-terrain vehicle outside the store. She said Ellie enjoyed seeing the reindeer.
“She loved them, but she couldn’t figure out which one was Rudolph,” Mitchell said.
John Roper, the reindeer’s caretaker, wasn’t helping out on that.
“Only Santa knows what their names are,” he said, as he carefully watched to make sure no little hands were getting close enough to be poked by an antler.
Roper, who lives in Marietta, takes the reindeer to events throughout the state during the Christmas season. He said they always draw a big crowd.
The event also included free food and face-painting. Brannen said they also have a big event for the Fourth of July.
“Anything that involves families is what we are about,” he said.