BRUNSWICK HILLS TWP. — Santa was able to spare five of his “backup” reindeer during this busy holiday season for Spring Mist Farm to use.
The annual “Candy Cane Christmas” event at 691 Pearl Road also featured a mostly living Nativity scene and a look into Santa’s workshop. For nearly 16 years the event has been held every weekend of December leading up to the holiday. A lot of work goes into getting the farm ready for the event each year, according to owner Dave Goodyear.
“We shut the hall down for a month just to decorate it,” said Goodyear, more commonly known in town as Uncle Dave. He walked around the main hall showing off Christmas trees, hidden elves that kids could find and an electric train set that ran for the entirety of the event.
Before heading out to the barn to check out the living Nativity scene with son Howard, Dave talked about the main attraction, a camel named Charlie.
“Charlie is a big hit. We rented (a camel) for the first three years that we did the ‘Candy Cane Christmas.’ When we bought Charlie, he was only up to here,” said Dave while motioning to his waist.
After braving the cold and windy night air on the trip over to the barn, Howard took over the tour.
Charlie the camel, as well as several horses, donkeys, cows and sheep were part of the Nativity scene. Families gathered around to view the animals and kids excitedly ran around petting animals and taking everything in.
Howard stopped at the Nativity scene and said “most people have real people and fake animals. We’re just the opposite; we have fake people and real animals.”
He then led the way out to the reindeer pen, outside the main barn, which held Santa’s “backup” reindeer. Howard shared that the family decided that they did not want to confuse kids that came to the ‘Candy Cane Christmas’ by saying they were Santa’s reindeer so they started the story that they were Santa’s backup reindeer.
“We have Jingles, Jangles, Tinsel, Joy and Snowflake right now,” said Howard. “That way kids won’t wonder why Santa’s reindeer are in a pen.”
Howard said that a lot of what they do at the farm is targeted toward kids, from traveling with the animals to do petting zoos, to having educational events and sleigh rides at the farm and holding the Candy Cane Christmas every year.
“We’ve been coming since my kids were tiny babies,” said Allison Graceffo, of Northfield Center, who has been coming to the event with her two children as well as her sister and her two kids for the last 12 years. “We love it, it’s tradition.”
Tradition is not the only thing that keeps people coming back, however.
“It’s close, it’s convenient, it’s not a lot of lines, the kids enjoy it,” said Laura Cummings, of Brunswick.
On the way back into the main barn, Howard stopped at the donkey pen to share an interesting note about donkeys.
“Did you know donkeys have a perfect cross on their back,” said. “The story goes that God promised that the donkey would always be remembered after carrying Mary.”
He pointed out the line of dark gray fur down the back and across the hips of each donkey that form a cross.