Santa returns to Reindeer Festival

December 9, 2014

This time of year, not surprisingly, Santa tends to get around. Children and parents alike can see him in malls and events all over.

File Visitors enjoy watching Santa’s reindeer at their home-away-from-North-Pole home during a previous Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo.

File
Visitors enjoy watching Santa’s reindeer at their home-away-from-North-Pole home during a previous Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo.

Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo invites visitors to not only meet Santa, but also to visit with his reindeer and other special animal helpers at the park’s 26th annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival through Dec. 23 at the zoo.

“Each year, the bar gets set a little higher,” said Cari McKinstry, promotions and public relations director for the zoo.

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Reindeer fly to Cougar Mountain Zoo for annual festival

December 4, 2012

Rogue, who was 5 months old during the 2011 Reindeer Festival at Cougar Mountain Zoo, checks out visitors through a barn window at Santa’s house. By Greg Farrar

If you saw a deer-shaped figure roaming the night sky in November, don’t be alarmed, said Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot, it was just Santa’s reindeer getting some flying practice in before their big day.

But now Santa’s reindeer are done practicing and ready to meet with local residents at the Cougar Mountain Zoo’s 24th annual Reindeer Festival.

While the zoo is technically closed during the month of December, the zoo eagerly plays host to the festival that attracts more than 10,000 visitors every year, Barfoot said.

“It provides a really great opportunity for people to do something with their families during the day and kind of get everyone in the feel of the holidays,” she said.

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Issaquah holiday activities offer fa-la-la fun

November 27, 2012

Bartell Drugs and Salvation Army’s Toy ‘n’ Joy drive through Dec. 14, accepts new, unwrapped gifts for children up to age 14, or shoppers can chose a gift request tag item in the store and put it in the donation barrel in the store. The Issaquah Bartell is at 5700 E. Lake Sammamish Parkway S.E. Learn more at www.bartelldrugs.com.

Toys for Troops seeks donations for Christmas presents for children of service members. Drop off donations through Dec. 15 at the Issaquah Police Station, 130 E. Sunset Way, or make financial donations at www.operationbaldeagle.org.

Small Works Holiday Exhibition, through Dec. 29, artEAST Art Center, 95 Front St. N., 392-3191, www.arteast.org

Downtown Issaquah holiday lights work party, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 1, meet at Hailstone Feed Store, 232 Front St., a lunch break at noon features donated pizza from Flying Pie Pizza, call 391-1112 to volunteer

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Rogue the reindeer is ready to take the reins

December 20, 2011

Rogue, Cougar Mountain Zoo’s 5-month-old reindeer, looks through a window checking out visitors to Santa’s house during the Reindeer Festival this month. By Greg Farrar

He may be only 5 months old, but he already weighs 84 pounds and is about three and half feet tall at his shoulders.

Especially as this is the holiday time of year, he has made numerous personal appearances at Christmas tree lightings and similar events, said Robyn Barfoot, general curator of the Cougar Mountain Zoological Park.

The toddler in question, however, probably is not going to be caught sitting on Santa’s lap.

Instead, Rogue the reindeer already is harness trained and ready to help pull Santa’s sleigh, Barfoot said.

“Santa likes to refer to him as ‘Blitzen,’” Barfoot added.

Rogue even already has his own Christmas song. The private Cougar Mountain Academy is near the zoo. Teachers and children there have come up with a version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” using Rogue’s name, Barfoot said.

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Find reindeer games aplenty at Cougar Mountain Zoo

November 30, 2010

Santa Claus feeds apple slices to Olive the reindeer last year at the barn attached to Santa’s House during the annual Issaquah Reindeer Festival. By Greg Farrar

Issaquah Reindeer Festival raises money for exhibits

Not many people can name all nine of Santa’s reindeer, but Cougar Mountain Zoo General Curator Robyn Barfoot can name 10.

That’s right. There’s Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen — not to mention Rudolph — and, Olive, as in “All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names; they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”

“Zookeepers have a very strange sense of humor,” Barfoot said.

There weren’t always 10 reindeer at Issaquah’s Cougar Mountain Zoo. The first group of reindeer, six in all, came directly from Siberia 23 years ago. Though at the zoo — and in Issaquah, no less — the reindeer not only help Santa every Christmas season but also bring in much-needed dollars for the zoo, which has a slow season during the cold, rainy months. Read more

Santa’s Reindeer at Cougar Mountain Zoo / Nov. 28, 2010

November 30, 2010

Santa returns for 21st annual Reindeer Festival

December 8, 2009

Santa Claus feeds apple slices to Olive at the barn attached to Santa’s House during Cougar Mountain Zoo’s Reindeer Festival. The lyrics to ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ include ‘All of (Olive) the other reindeer,’ who used to laugh and call Rudolph names Photos By Greg Farrar

Santa Claus feeds apple slices to Olive at the barn attached to Santa’s House during Cougar Mountain Zoo’s Reindeer Festival. The lyrics to ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ include ‘All of (Olive) the other reindeer,’ who used to laugh and call Rudolph names Photos By Greg Farrar

Technically, Cougar Mountain Zoo is closed for the winter season. However, when you have a guest whose reputation is built around the holiday season, allowances are made.

Thus, Robyn Barfoot, zoo manager and head elf, is proud to provide the facility of choice for Santa Claus to host his 21st annual Reindeer Festival. As evidenced by the attendance figures, it’s one of the zoo’s best-attended attractions of the year.

“It’s extremely popular. We get 10,000 visitors in the month of December,” Barfoot said. “That’s quite a lot for our zoo. And we have quite a few families who’ve made it a holiday tradition, including one from Wenatchee.” Read more

Zoo’s holiday festival features live reindeer

November 25, 2008

Santa stands on the porch of his home-away-from-North Pole home at Cougar Mountain Zoo, overlooking the reindeer yard. By Greg Farrar Santa stands on the porch of his home-away-from-North Pole home at Cougar Mountain Zoo, overlooking the reindeer yard. By Greg Farrar

Santa’s reindeer look forward to December all year long, and not just Christmas night. The reindeer have been logging extra flying sessions to make sure they are ready for the big night. For the first three weeks in December, they’ll be holding court at the Cougar Mountain Zoo’s 20th annual Reindeer Festival.

“The reindeer do enjoy this time of year, since they get apples every day and they love apples,” said Robyn Barfoot, general curator at the zoo. Read more