The capital city will usher in the Christmas season during the annual Silver & Snowflakes Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 5 with two kinds of reindeer -- real ones from Hawthorne and willow ones made by schoolchildren with the help of "Willow Bill" Goulardt.
"It's always fun," Santa's Reindeer & Co.'s Leeanne Kirby of her appearances at the tree lighting. "We'll probably bring Husker -- he's a steer so he'll have the velvet antlers."
Kirby and her husband, Ken, expect to bring four reindeer, including Angela, Doris and Jingles. They are all descendants of domesticated animals from Lappland, an area spreading across northern Scandinavia, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
The reindeer will pose for pictures with Santa, played by Carson City's Bob Davenport. He buys the candy canes he'll distribute himself.
"He's really fun to work with," Kirby said of Davenport. "He's just really good with the kids and the adults."
Goulardt visits schools from California to New York to help students make reindeer out of willow sticks. He has a son in Carson City.
"This year, I'll be making my 1,000th reindeer," Goulardt said. He gathers his own materials -- green willow from the Oregon coast, red and yellow from Idaho and Montana, and silver from Nevada. Students at Bordewich-Bray and Seeliger elementary schools, St. Teresa's School and Pleasant Valley will again participate in the reindeer project this week. Jacks Valley Elementary School will try the project for the first time.
"We'll work with 1,500 kids this year, actually in the next five weeks," said Goulardt.
Other events centered around the Dec. 5 tree lighting are the Toys for Joy Program, a performance by the Carson High School choir and an open house at the Northern Nevada Railway Foundation's new location.
Toys for Joy, sponsored by the Salvation Army, will be in the hub of activity -- Telegraph Square. Any child who donates a toy will get a 15 percent-off coupon or a special treat at one of 11 local businesses.
"When Wal-Mart left and went to Douglas County (The Salvation Army) lost a $5,000 toy donation," said Doreen Mack, a spokeswoman for the Telegraph Square Group of businesses. Many shops around the square plan to be open late after the ceremony, including Java Joe's, which will host the Carson High School choir; A Treasure Basket, which will raffle off a gift basket full of items from area boutiques; and Lofty Expressions.
"We all do special little refreshments," said Mack, who runs Lofty Expressions and the Idea House design studio.
Other ceremony performers include the Carson City Combined Elementary Choir, the Carson Middle School Red Hot Bell Peppers hand bell players, the Chorus of the Comstock and the Home School Singers.
Mayor Ray Masayko will speak to the crowd after the lighting of the state tree at the Capitol.
"It brings out the Christmas spirit in the kid in all of us -- including me," he said.
The 95-foot tall state tree, a Colorado blue spruce, was planted in 1876 by George Washington Gale Ferris, whose son invented the Ferris Wheel.
IF YOU GO
What: Silver & Snowflakes Holiday Tree Lighting
When: 5:20 p.m. Dec. 5
Where: Capitol grounds, 101 N. Carson St.
Schedule of events:
1 to 8:30 p.m.: Santa and his reindeer at Telegraph Square.
5:20 p.m.: Combined Elementary Choir, CMS Red Hot Bell Peppers
5:30 p.m.: Santa arrives in a 1926 Model T
5:45 p.m.: State tree lighting by Secretary of State Dean Heller and his family
5:55 p.m.: Remarks by Mayor Ray Masayko
6:00 p.m.: Candlelight procession to the city tree at Musser and Nevada Streets, songs by Chorus of the Comstock and the Home School Singers
6:15 p.m.: City tree lighting
6:30 to 9 p.m.: Downtown businesses open