Reindeer parade in The Malls is a real winner

Basingstoke Gazette: Lilly-Ella Butler, five, from South Ham, Basingstoke meets Jonas the reindeer Buy this photo » Lilly-Ella Butler, five, from South Ham, Basingstoke meets Jonas the reindeer

SANTA’S sleigh bells rang out as he arrived in The Malls in Basingstoke – pulled by a herd of reindeer.

The beautiful animals travelled all the way from Cairngorm in the Scottish Highlands to Basingstoke, where they were admired by hundreds of spectators who had gathered for the popular annual event.

Leading the procession were reindeer Grunta and Jonas, followed by Oryx, Macaroon, Duke and Stenoa, who at just six-months-old was the youngest, and smallest, in the gang of males.

The herd belongs to Tilly Smith, who has looked after them for 32 years.

She said: “They live in the only mountainous area of Great Britain, and it’s been 60 years since the first ones arrived.

“They are very tame and docile and quiet, and very easy-going when they see new surroundings. They are here as a little herd of reindeer and they get confidence from each other, and from us. They absorb that from people.”

Children stroked the friendly animals, and gave letters to Father Christmas who wandered around chatting to families in the crowds.

Caitlyn McGowan, seven, from Lawrence Close, Popley, handed a Christmas list to Santa. The Marnel Junior School pupil said: “I asked for a new scooter because I broke my other one when I was playing on it. I like the reindeer – they look pretty.”

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