HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — A special attraction at Hersheypark’s Christmas Candylane would not be possible, without an even more special woman who brings it to life year after year.
When December descends on Hershey, tis the season for trees and lights and the magic of Christmas. Of course, the holiday would not be the same without Santa and his famous reindeer.
Every winter, those nine reindeer visit Hersheypark. You know Dasher and Dancer, but who you might not know is the woman who brings these magical animals to life.
For 25 years, Denise Snyder has been a fixture at Santa’s Stables, taking care of the big man’s reindeer.
“They’re miracle animals, they really are,” she said. “My favorite part is the day they get here. The excitement, oh it’s so cool, and seeing them come off the truck.”
To her, this gig is a stroke of luck.
“When I was little, I was always drawing pictures of reindeer, but never in my life did I think that someday, I’d even be next to one,” she said.
However, a closer look reveals Snyder lives and breathes these animals.
“Reindeer socks, reindeer slippers, reindeer pajamas, reindeer underwear,” she said, listing all of her reindeer gear. “I have at least 60 pairs of earrings.”
She knows — and loves — each and every animal.
“They all have different personalities and it’s just so much fun getting to know them,” she said. “This one right there, that’s Comet, she’s short and squat and wide, she’s a troublemaker.”
Snyder’s knowledge about reindeer is unparalleled. “If you have any questions just holler them out to me. Don’t be shy,” she calls out as guests walk by.
From the educational to the magical, she has an answer for any question.
“Which one’s Rudolph? That’s the main question we get,” she said.
When guests ask why Rudolph’s nose isn’t red, she has an answer for that too: “Well he’ll turn it on when Santa wants him to.”
Snyder adores her job, coming back year after year.
“I love what I do, it’s so much fun,” she said.
She loves bringing the joy of the holidays to little kids.
“My passion in life was always animals, but when you get to talk to little children this time of year, and the questions you get, there’s nothing like it,” Snyder said.
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However, it is not just kids who feel the magic. Snyder tries to make this a special experience for the adults as well.
“I had a lady tonight that had a chaperone because she couldn’t get around herself, and to see the joy in her eyes got to me,” she remembered.
She can’t share every secret. Snyder does not even know them all.
“They fly because of what Santa feeds them. We’re not allowed to feed them that. We don’t even have the recipe. We sign a contract when we take the job not to do that,” she explained
Still, she is determined to make sure what guests see, and even what they do not see — magical.
“I know that the reindeer come and they stand where their name is and then Santa comes in, gives them a little bit of magic dust,” she tells guests. “Well you know the magic of Christmas, anything can happen.”
“I hope they take away the wonder of the animal world and the miracles of creation,” Snyder said.
There is still plenty of time to see Santa’s reindeer. The reindeer will be at Hersheypark through January 1.