Willow Bill returns with reindeer | NevadaAppeal.com

Willow Bill returns with reindeer

Teri Vance
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Frances Fajardo, 6, and her classmates help Willow Bill create a willow reindeer at Bordewich Bray Elementary School on Thursday morning. Willow BIll and local students will create about 100 reindeer to be used around town for holiday art displays.

Walking down the hallways of Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, students start to recognize him.

“Hey, it’s that guy,” one boy says to a classmate in a line headed for the lunchroom.

“Yeah, it’s Willow Bill,” his friend responds.

After 10 years of building reindeer with children in Carson City, “Willow” Bill Goulardt has become something of a celebrity.

“He’s so cool,” said 6-year-old Aaron Portillo, a first-grader in Barb Martin’s class where Willow Bill spent Thursday morning.

Starting with a pile of sticks, screws and some tools, Willow Bill worked with the students to create a willow reindeer.

Along the way, he taught them.

“Do any of you know what this is?” he asked, holding up a stick.

“Branch sticks,” a student offered.

“What kind of sticks?” Willow Bill asked, then hinted, “Remember my name.”

“Willow Bill sticks,” a handful of students shouted out.

He taught them about yellow willow, beeb willow and taught them to howl for the coyote willow, which is native to this area.

He showed them the end of the willow and the rings that mark the age.

“What do the rings mean?” he asked.

“That it’s married,” offered Dominic Martinez, 6.

“I can’t teach the way he teaches,” said Martin, who’s invited him into her classroom for nine years. “He’s got them wrapped around his finger. He’s got power tools and let’s them use their imaginations. It’s just so captivating.”

Willow Bill arranged the willows into the correct shape, then guided each student to help drill a screw to hold the shape in place.

One screw at a time, a reindeer was created.

“It looks really cute and really colorful,” said Frances Fajardo, 6. “It was fun to make.”

And, Willow Bill pointed out, it was all done using sticks ” which, along with baby dolls and skateboards, were inducted this year into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

“I have about 100,000 sticks at my house,” he told the students. “I looked around and said, ‘this must be the hall of fame.'”

The reindeer will either go to the Capitol lawn or along Highway 395 as part of an art display.

– Contact reporter Teri Vance at tvance@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1272.