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Slurping, smiling and scavenging with Santa

Over at Schauber Stables at 428 Schauber Road in Ballston Lake, the animals are on Santa's naughty list. Ellie the Lamb and her goat accomplices wanted to be like Santa's reindeer, so one night when two of Santa's most special horses were asleep, they snuck out to borrow Santa's sleigh. They almost crashed it as they flew over Schauber's Forrest and a bunch of presents fell out; now, Santa is asking local children to help him find them.

"Kids absolutely love it. This weekend, Santa rode in the back of the hay wagon with us and the kids had a ball," said Karen Crandall, manager of Schauber Stables and creator of the holiday present hunt.

Crandall was the mastermind behind the quirky Christmas Tale, which is being tested out for the first time.

"I don't sleep well at night and I just thought it would be an interesting thing to do," said Crandall. "We have gotas and a lamb andtheyre always getting out and getting into things, so we just took it from there and developed this story."

Crandall's daughters Megan, 16, Caitlyn, 19, and a friend she'd like to call her daughter, Stephanie Ochrym, 24, dress up as elves and help children who come for the present hunt, which will take place again on Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19.

"We're always looking to do more things to bring the community in because we offer all sorts of different things. We want people to come even if they don't ride," said Crandall. "It's a very wholesome activity."

Santa doesn't just visit the stables and wait for children to bring him back his lost presents. He's also available for small "Breakfast with Santa" and "Spaghetti with Santa" sessions and pictures.

"When my kids were younger we went to breakfast with Santa and it was with 50 or 60 other kids. It takes away the intimate feel of a family sitting down with Santa," said Crandall. "This is phenomenal because they're sitting next to Santa having breakfast and he's handing them pancakes or helping them with the syrup."

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