This Jersey Shore Alpaca Farm Has More Christmas Spirit Than the North Pole — and You Can Visit
On a Saturday morning in a backyard on the Jersey Shore, nine alpacas run into a pen with the same merry spirit as Santa’s reindeer. They might not have antlers, but they have garnered the attention of many devotees who are lining up for the chance to take a photograph with them in their red and green Christmas ensembles.
This is not just any ordinary backyard — it's the property of Jim and Tish Carpinelli — also known as the Jersey Shore Alpaca Farm. Since the farm was founded in 2005, the Carpinellis have transformed their 30-acre backyard into one of New Jersey’s most unexpected agritourism destinations.
“One day i was looking through a magazine and I saw an ad for alpacas. I jokingly went to my husband and said that's what we ought to do — raise alpacas,” Tish said. Jim was on board.
Tish, who works full-time as a high school librarian, spent time researching alpacas and decided there were no negatives to starting such a venture. It certainly takes a specific type of person to only see the positive in turning their backyard into an alpaca farm and spending every Friday night cutting up carrots for visitors to feed them. But the Carpinellis feel like it’s their calling: “For some strange reason, we feel like God has led us along this path, and continues to lead us to do this. It’s not like most people are called to be alpaca farmers.”
Related: Take a Llama to Lunch in Colorado
The draw, according to the Carpinellis, is that it’s a slice of the country for city dwellers who find themselves vacationing on the Jersey Shore. “Plus, it’s interaction with people,” Tish said. “We live in such a technological society — a lot of times you just don’t get that personal touch anymore.”
If the Wildwood boardwalk doesn’t pique your interest, perhaps these alpacas will. Visitors can partake in private tours, feed the alpacas, or attend special events like the holiday photo shoots that occur every Saturday leading up to Christmas.
Alpaca Lovers Only
Left: Tish and Jim Carpinelli, the owners of Jersey Shore Alpacas, pose with Annabel Lee. Right: Parking at the Jersey Shore Alpaca Farm.
Deck the Necks
Tish and Jim Carpinelli put a Christmas scarf on Victory just before the holiday photo shoot begins.
The alpacas wait to be let into the pen with visitors.
Alpaca Annabel Lee poses with visitors Cheryl and Chris Keiser.
Pose Like a 'paca
Madison Bombera and Makayla Cherena pose in the alpaca cutout located just outside the farm area.
For the Love of Carrots
Alpacas don’t particularly enjoy being petted, but they will tolerate it for carrots. Some alpacas, unlike Annabel, opted to stay toward the back and away from the crowds.
On the Naughty List
Maybelline gets dressed in her “naughty” Christmas bandana.
Baby's First Alpaca
Katherine, Payton, and Justin Vierling pose with Annabel Lee, the alpaca most eager for photos.
Pat Bansch, who attended the holiday photo shoot with her granddaughter, takes a photo with her iPhone of the alpacas.
Annabel Lee, who is named after the Edgar Allen Poe poem, wears a holiday bow just before the holiday photo shoot begins.
Left: Cassandra and Sabrina Gancarz pose with Annabel Lee. Right: Alpacas Cara Mara and Leah.
Attendees pose with Miss Sera.
Feeding Annabel Lee
Visitor Christopher Saini tries to feed Annabel Lee leaves at the holiday photo shoot.
Maybelline gets friendly for a moment with another alpaca.
Best Friends Forever
Ronnell Villanueva and Ashley Phrampus pose with Annabel Lee.
Sharyn Henderson and Abigail Nicholas pose with Annabel Lee while wearing their ugly Christmas sweaters.
Victory and Annabel right before the holiday photo shoot begins.
That's the Spirit
Left: Victory the alpaca after she was given a Christmas bow. Right: Annabel Lee poses with Emily Riexinger in the area that offered a more formal alpaca portrait.
Gale Sava, in the perfect alpaca sweater, poses with Miss Sera.
Nose to Nose
Visitors Lauren Schmanek and Mila Crafton get up close and personal with an alpaca.
Sera walks around the pen taking a break from the visitors.
The entrance to the alpaca store, where you can buy totes, hats, alpaca yarn, alpaca sweaters, and so much more, located on site.