We interrupt our regularly scheduled Santa Maria BBQ programming for what has become breaking national news: the lassooing of a stray reindeer by a local cowboy on the streets of Santa Maria.

No, this is not some fanciful holiday yarn. It’s a true story that happened yesterday, and that is now being reported by the Associated Press, ABC News and others. Here’s how the AP sums it up:

“A cowboy on horseback lassoed a runaway reindeer that escaped from a California Christmas tree lot and eluded capture for hours. The 9-year-old reindeer was on the lam for 2 1/2 hours Thursday, scampering through busy Santa Maria streets, strawberry fields and residential areas.

Rancher Bob Acquistapace, riding a horse and wearing a cowboy hat, boots and spurs, finally got a rope over the reindeer’s head at about noon and tied the exhausted animal to a lamppost. The reindeer was eventually loaded into a trailer. The reindeer escaped from the Hopper Bros. Christmas tree lot at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Acquistapace, who is married to a Fairpark employee, happened to be at a nearby ranch with his horse.”

Bravo, Bob! Santa Claus would be proud.

As locals will attest, this story is so Santa Maria Valley. The valley’s reputation for neighborly hospitality, ranching lifestyle and sensational barbecue is no shtick. It is built on a local way of life that endures today. Visit us soon and see—and taste—for yourself!