Highway reindeer part of art project
by Sharlene Irete
A project is in the making to line 85 miles of Highway 395 with willow reindeer constructed by elementary school children for the holidays.
“This is the largest art project in the U.S.,” said “Willow” Bill Goulardt. “The hope is the reindeer will light up the highway from Bordertown north of Reno to Topaz. Last year the reindeer were on 42 miles of the road. Our idea is to fill in the empty spaces.”
The goal is to fill in those spaces so that people would be able to stand with one group of reindeer and see the next group down the road.
Goulardt brought the willow and tools to Gardnerville Elementary School this week and had 24 classrooms of children help him construct reindeer.
Students in Audrey Ellbogen’s third-grade class kept safety first in mind when they helped Goulardt put the reindeer together with screws and trim the willow with tree loppers.
The reindeer the children made will join the other already constructed hundreds that are stored until called into use during the holidays.
“There will be over 500 reindeer this year,” he said. “They’ll be flying over rooftops and eating alongside the highway.”
The Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center and Gardnerville businesses helped with the project last year by hosting groups of three reindeer in front of shops. Goulardt said Minden businesses are getting involved this year.
“It’s a great community enhancement project because our kids made them,” he said. “The kids who are 17 years old now did this with me 13 years ago so they don’t mess with the reindeer. I’m proud to be part of it.”
Goulardt said the lights on the reindeer are red, white, and blue in support of men and women overseas, or can be any other color.
Reindeer are available to buy for your home or as gifts through Willow Bill’s Reindeer Adoption Program.
For information on how to adopt reindeer to be in front of your place of business during the holidays, go to http://www.willowbill.com