Miss Gretchen Wiler as Raina the Reindeer (in SLT’s Christmas Cabaret Dec. 7)

Photos submitted to Times Observer Gretchen Wiler as Raina the Reindeer.

Recently, we were able to catch up with Raina the Reindeer, a valley girl doe who works with Santa at the North Pole. We persuaded Raina to sit down and answer some questions about her life at the North Pole while staying over in Warren for the SLT Academy’s production of Christmas Cabaret Dec. 7 at Struthers Library Theatre.

Q: Have you always worked with Santa?

Raina: Like, my pops did. When he was in his prime, my dad flew all over the globe on five consecutive Christmas Eves with Good Old St. Nick. But now, pops is like worn out, too old for the long hauls. He and my mom spend Christmas down south.

Q: Like in Florida?

Raina: No, like at the South Pole. Anyway, I have only worked with Santa about three years. Mom and dad raised me in a suburb outside the North Pole, so I wasn’t around the whole Christmas scene until I was about seven.

Photos submitted to Times Observer Gretchen Wiler as Raina the Reindeer.

Q: What is it like to live at the North Pole?

Raina: It’s like amazing! There are so many candy canes. I have them every night with my hay. And sometimes I even get hot chocolate with candy canes when Mrs. Claus isn’t too busy helping Santa.

Q: How do you become one of Santa’s reindeer?

Raina: To get into the North Pole stables, you have to be able to fly at a specific height. Over that height, you can go to the higher stalls and qualify to pull Santa’s sleigh. But under that height, you do other jobs around the compound. Reindeer who don’t make the flight team, like, help Santa take things to the barn or help load and pull toys in the workshop.

Q: Was it your dream to fly with Santa?

Raina: Um, actually, my dream is to work at the reception desk at a hotel, but that probably won’t happen for a reindeer. So, like when I was looking for my first job, I didn’t want to do all the flying stuff required at the North Pole. But then, I was like, “Hey, the job comes with free food, a stall, and free bedding and stuff.” So I went to see Santa’s set-up and decided to stay. Um like, I tried to fly with the team once, but my antler got stuck in a chimney. Rudolph pushed me…he is one twisted set of antlers. Anyway, after that injury, I couldn’t fly with the team anymore. But reindeer don’t have to fly to be helpful.

Q: So what do you do at the North Pole?

Raina: Like every year, I organize the Reindeer Games. It is an epic job. The morale of the whole squad depends on great games and a thumpin’ party. Every year, I give it my all, but every year it is tough because of those pesky elves. Like elves are the worst. They get on my nerves…always giggling and running around ruining stuff. Like one day, I was helping pull this big box of toys, but then like Pom Pom Glitterbottom and Frosty Jingletoes came over and dumped the whole box over and just started laughing. Oh, don’t even get me started on the idiocy of elves.

Q: Aren’t elves supposed to be all hard working and sweet? Could you tell us more?

Raina: I would love to, but I gotta get flying to check in on preparations for the reindeer games. This year, I am installing elf detectors, so if any of those bogus beasts try to ruin the party I can catch them in the act. But hey, I’ll be back on December 7th to run some errands for Santa. I’d be happy to sit down and tell you all about the selfish little elves.

Then Raina massaged her injured antler, took a running start along the roofline of the hotel where she had been staying and started flying north with her reindeer friends. But just before she flew away, Raina promised to appear in SLT Academy’s A Christmas Cabaret on December 7 at 8 p.m. at the Struthers Library Theatre and tell everyone about the reindeer games and those North Pole elves.

So, after the Christmas Walk, head on over to Struthers Library Theatre to see Raina and a whole host of Christmas characters sing, dance and perform in A Christmas Cabaret. Tickets to the show are $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, and free for children under 5. Stop by the office 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays at 302 West Third Avenue or call (814) 723-7231. The box office, theatre and concession open at 7 p.m. the evening of the show.


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