Every year I look forward to the Swanson’s Nursery order in November; their annual Reindeer Festival order officially marks the beginning of the holiday season here at Busy Beaver.
The buttons are used to raise money for two local charities — the Humane Society for Seattle/King County and Northwest Harvest— during Reindeer Festival, the nursery’s annual holiday promotion that runs from mid-November through Christmas. Visitors get to take home a commemorative button in exchange for donating two dollars. Dan Gilchrist, Swanson’s resident graphic design and marketing guru, explains, “Every Christmas season since 2001, we have hosted two live reindeer (Dasher and Blitzen) and, since 2008, a camel named Curley (and for a couple of years, Moe, a miniature donkey). With the animals’ consistent popularity, we thought to offer our visitors and their children a token in exchange for a donation to local charities. So the button idea emerged. Button sales have raised an average of $2,500 each year for the local Humane Society and food bank.”
It’s always exciting to see what new button designs the nursery orders each year. “I try to do a unique design every year and make it appealing to both kids and adults,” Gilchrest says. “It’s a fun diversion from the usual signage and advertising projects I focus on.” Historically, the nursery has ordered two different 2.25-inch button designs— one featuring a reindeer motif and another featuring Curley the camel and Moe the miniature donkey. But when Moe didn’t make an appearance in either the 2012 or 2013 designs, I had to ask Dan “What happened to Moe?” Short answer: he’s on vacation in Hawaii.
Apparently, Curley and Moe were once best buds but not so anymore. Gilchrest explained that when the pair initially teamed up they were very playful. “They would chase and lightly bite each other and the size difference made their antics all the more entertaining. Moe would occasionally latch onto Curley’s muzzle with his teeth and get lifted completely off the ground. What a lost video opportunity!”
But their second year together didn’t go so well. “Moe was becoming more territorial and aggressive (as pack animals are wont to do), while it seemed Curley was maturing and less interested in playfighting.” Gilchrest said. “In any case, Moe’s aggression was drawing a lot of notice and several people commented on how rough the two were becoming. So, alas, we agreed that it was time to break up the comedy team and just have Curley back by himself again. I made up fake postcards from Moe “vacationing in Hawaii” in case customers asked where he went.”
If you’re in the Seattle area, be sure to stop by Swanson’s Nursery between now and Christmas Eve to meet Curley, Dasher, and Blitzen and get your very own button. More details at swansonsnursery.com.