The Lead

Santa’s reindeer cleared for Christmas travel

By: - December 20, 2023 3:26 pm

Gov. Josh Shapiro and Santa Claus hold up the reindeers’ health certificate at a press conference in Hershey on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.

Santa’s team of reindeer have been cleared for flight ahead of Christmas Eve on Sunday.

“Today, we’re pleased to announce — to all the little boys and girls of the state of Pennsylvania — that Santa’s team of reindeer are cleared to travel on Christmas Eve to all the counties of Pennsylvania,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. 

Dr. Alex Hamberg, Pennsylvania’s state veterinarian gave the deer a clean bill of health at a check-up on Wednesday afternoon. 

“These reindeer needed to be inspected to make sure that their fur is clean so it can keep them nice and warm in flight, to make sure that their heart [and] lungs are in good working order, and their limbs are strong and healthy and free of injury and make sure that their eyes are clear and ready to see what’s ahead so they can pull Santa’s sleigh safely,” Hamberg said. 

Together, Hamberg and Gov. Josh Shapiro presented Santa with the certificate showing that his nine reindeer were in good health and ready to perform their seasonal duties. 

“I have here a certificate of veterinary inspection from the state of Alaska, indicating that our reindeer, or Santa’s reindeer, are healthy and ready to move,” Hamberg said. 

Shapiro, who is celebrating his first holiday season as governor, said being present for the reindeer’s vet visit on Wednesday is one of the “coolest” parts of the job, adding that introducing Santa Claus to reporters “may be the highest honor I’ve ever had in my career as a public servant.”

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