You know Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, but you probably don’t know that Santa’s latest conveyance is a Mayo Clinic helicopter.

When he lost his reindeer after his annual checkup at the clinic, Santa had to borrow their helicopter and the services of the RDA (the Reindeer Detection Agency) to track them down. Also known as the Rochester Downtown Association, the RDA enlisted the help of Rochesterites to track the fuzzy-antlered reindeer in the 12 Days of Magic downtown scavenger hunt leading up to Santa’s visit during the Drive-Thru Here Comes Santa Claus Parade on Friday, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Each day, the RDA has been posting riddles on social media at 8 a.m. to guide Santa’s local helpers to find the next reindeer.

Several, like Donner, Blitzen and Vixen, have already been found hanging out at places like Café Steam, Carroll’s Corn, and Scrub Your Butt Soap Co. The detectives who tracked them down all earned special reindeer stickers.

Related: Holiday happenings begin this weekend!

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It’s not too late to join in the search through the 44 blocks of the special downtown service district. Look for antlers and hooves high and low, because street-level, subway-level and skyway-level locations are included.

“Each day, a limited number of ‘More Magic’ offerings are also available to the first detectives on the scene,” said Lauren Contreras, the RDA’s administrative coordinator. However, pandemic safety is important to both Santa and the RDA, so outside signage includes a number to call inside if you don't want to enter to see if you can claim one of the extra free gifts.

Besides trying to create some holiday fun, the RDA is also trying to encourage people to frequent downtown establishments they might not have visited recently.

“The goal is to safely encourage people to come downtown, do additional holiday shopping for friends and family, and support local businesses during the holidays,” said Katie Adelman, the RDA’s director of content and communications.

When all of the reindeer are finally tracked down, Santa will be ready for the Drive-Thru Parade in the Premier Bank parking lot (entering from Fifth Street). Cars in the queue will begin to hear Christmas music when they hit First Avenue, and will see Santa in the fire department bucket soon afterward.


During the drive-thru parade, the RDA will follow the state’s health guidelines surrounding vehicle gatherings and parades. They ask that each vehicle is occupied only by members of the same household, that attendees remain in their vehicles, and that when a vehicle’s windows are rolled down, masks are worn.

Volunteers will hand out goodie bags to vehicles before they begin the parade route, but masked, gloved and hand-sanitized volunteers will place them in containers for a contactless handoff.

If you go

What: Here Comes Santa Claus Drive-Thru Parade

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27

Where: Premier Bank parking lot, 421 1st Ave. SW, Rochester

Cost: Free

Parade route

The Here Comes Santa Claus drive-thru parade route includes:

  • Entering through the Premier Bank (421 1st Ave. SW) parking lot from Fifth Street Southwest for the parade lineup
  • Heading north on First Avenue Southwest from US Bank
  • Driving past Santa Claus, who will be across the street from Residences of Old City Hall
  • Exiting the parade route either west or east on Second Street Southwest

A downloadable parade route map and more details about Here Comes Santa Claus can be found at