Pepper

Pepper is ready to play Santa at the Golden Age Ranch’s fundraiser.

The Golden Age Ranch on St. Thomas will be celebrating Christmas a little differently this year. Instead of a two-legged Santa with a beard and a belly, Santa will have four hooves and a tail.

“Traditionally, kids get to sit on Santa’s lap, but they can’t this year, so we thought we’d make Santa into a horse,” said Golden Age Ranch’s Holly Fletcher.

The horse sanctuary, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing shelter, care and rehabilitation services for abandoned and unwanted horses, many of whom come from the local racetrack, is hosting a Holly-Neigh Picture Day fundraiser on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the ranch across from Lindquist Beach. Horses, playing the roles of Santa and Rudolph, will be all dressed up and ready to pose with kids and adults alike, either on the horse or standing with the horse. The Polaroid picture will be placed in a customized ornament frame that can be decorated at the craft station to create a fun Christmas memento with stickers, glitter, bells and other holiday trinkets.

Once the ornament is complete, take a tour of the ranch to meet the 16 horses currently in residence and buy some of their favorite snacks for them to nibble out of your hand.

The ranch typically offers horseback riding with the rehabilitated horses, the only riding facility on St. Thomas. Proceeds from the rides fund the feeding and medical expenses of the horses, but since COVID-19, tours have been limited. The event seeks to fill in the financial gap that the lack of revenue has caused.

According to Fletcher, she worked with the Health Department to make sure the event is safe for all. The ranch is all outdoors and spread out, and the team of volunteers will limit the number of people at the picture-taking area and sanitized decorating station at any one time.

“This is fun for all ages,” said Fletcher. “It’s not just for kids. I know some people in their 20s and 30s that are excited to come. We’re really looking forward to helping the island bring in some holiday cheer, while at the same time raising money to feed these magnificent animals.”

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. With each $10 donated at the event, enter to win a diamond necklace from Diamonds International. For more information, visit www.GARhorsesanctuary.com