For those who haven’t had this opportunity, the reindeer’s Christmas visit to Ballymena ensures that more folk can be enveloped by this special charm.All dressed up for the paradeBells
And of course, unlike at their free-range mountainside home, the specially trained Christmas reindeer (all male) are bedecked with custom-made red harness complete with silver “Jingle bells”.
One day my antlers will be as big as yoursSholto
This year Brocken, Creran, Rupert, and the dark Bagheera, resplendent with their wonderful hat-rack antlers, made the journey, together with little six months old Sholto, brought, by custom, to get him used to the lights, noise and crowds.
Two reindeer pulled the fairytale sleigh, with the Mayor and Santa on board, whilst Sholto was carefully shielded by the other two adult reindeer at the back.
The cheering of the crowds, the music of the accompanying band and the colourful costumed characters in the parade didn't faze them one bit and they all behaved perfectly - a compliment to their handlers, “Reindeer people” Morna and Frank. Although Sholto’s funny straight new antlers were just at the height to keep poking Morna’s bottom which must have been uncomfortable!Little Sholto brings up the rear in more ways than one.
A young girl, who I think had won a competition to travel in the sleigh, also enjoyed the experience and she too marvelled at the beautifully dense shaded coats of the reindeer and was surprised at their short stature. Maybe this is part of their attraction – they are not huge creatures, it’s only their antlers that give the impression of height and when these are shed (both male and females annually bear and shed the velvet covered antlers) they are actually quite compact animals.