Artist "Willow Bill" see his famous reindeer going 'green'

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

The 18 reindeer to be lit Thursday during the Silver & Snowflakes Tree Lighting ceremony will be a few of hundreds that will span western Nevada.

Over the past 15 years, "Willow" Bill Goulardt has worked with about 15,000 students from Reno to Gardnerville making willow reindeer.

He entertains them with holiday and outdoor adventure stories as he guides them through the process of creating the deer.

"It's never been about me," he said. "It's about the kids."

Goulardt is hoping to turn the students' work into the country's largest art project, at the same time "shedding light on alternative


This year, he plans to line 43 miles of Highway 395, from Sharkey's in Gardnerville to Joe's Diner in Reno, with 300 lit reindeer.

Eventually, he said, he would like to cover the 85 miles from Bordertown to Topaz, with a person being able to stand at one group of reindeer and see the next group.

The only problem, however, is electricity.

"A lot of it is in the middle of nowhere," he said. "We need to use solar."

But he's not quite sure how to pull that off.

"I'm a stick guy," he explained.

He's counting on the community to come together to find a way to make it happen.

"Let's get it done," he said.

He estimates it will take about 1,000 reindeer to complete the reindeer trail, and with the support of the children who've made them throughout the years, he sees nothing but success.

"There were 213 reindeer out there last year," he said. "Not one light bulb was stolen. Not one reindeer vandalized. That's incredible. They're watching out for their stuff, for their brothers' and sisters' stuff."


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