By KAYLA J. MARSH
Pick a day, any day and something, whether a food, an animal, a profession or even a hair color, will be dedicated to it.
This week, July 8 features “Collector Car Appreciation Day,” while July 9 celebrates “National Sugar Cookie Day.”
And just in time to celebrate the weekend, July 10 is “National Pina Colada Day.” Look someone in the eye on July 12, which is proclaimed “National Different Colored Eyes Day.”
Since 2013, the National Day Calendar, an organization based in Mandan, North Dakota, has been combing the Internet and digging through the archives to see how these lesser-known “holidays” came about.
“We track about 1,200 national days right now,” said Marlo Anderson, founder of National Day Calendar, in an interview June 28.
“[The] average [is] probably three to four a day, although there are some days … that have a lot more, some that have quite a bit less, and a lot of that sometimes just depends on the year.”
Anderson said the National Day Calendar began as a hobby, but has become increasingly popular. In his research, he has found that national days have varied ways of starting.
“I was trying to figure out where ‘National Popcorn Day’ came from and really couldn’t find any information except for the fact that it was on Jan. 19,” he said. “I thought it would be interesting as a hobby to investigate these days and … track down the history of them and see … whether it was something that was new and unique 150 years ago or if it is a social media phenomenon.
“We started off as just a national day calendar and … we’ve expanded and we’re researching right now the weeks, the months and the international days so we have a listing of those as well.
“[What is celebrated is] as varyingly unique as we are people.”
At a recent Middletown Township Committee meeting, the governing body issued a proclamation designating June 19-25 “National Youth Week 2016.”
“The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks has designated the third week of June as Youth Week to honor America’s junior citizens for their accomplishments and to give fitting recognition of their services to community, state and nation,” Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said. “These young people … represent the nation’s greatest resource, and … in the years ahead will assume the responsibility for the advancement of our free society.”
According to the mayor, Middletown Elks Lodge No. 2179 sponsors an observance week in tribute to the junior citizens of the township.
“It is a wonderful thing this town does every year supporting the Elks,” said Elks Exalted Ruler Nick Giurieco at the meeting. “Our youth are the most important assets to us [and] I’d like to commend the Township Committee [for the] support they give us all the time in our adventures.
“We’re grateful for these young people.”
In Middlesex County, “National Trails Day” on June 4 saw more than two dozen volunteers head out to the Jamesburg Park Conservation Area to not only raise awareness about the county’s more than 30 miles of maintained hiking trails, but to make improvements to keep the trails looking wonderful all year long.
“’National Trails Day’ is an opportunity [where] … we go ahead and invite folks out to do trail maintenance work with us and [is about encouraging people] to use the trails and get outdoors,” said Rick Lear, director of Parks and Recreation. “It is a nice day and helps [volunteers] feel like they are part of something larger.”
Lear said approximately 30 volunteers moved about 100 pounds of litter from the conservation area’s nearly eight miles of trails, as well as helped clean downed trees and debris and helped with basic plant removal.
“[The day] also helps to promote awareness of the benefits the trails provide to folks, whether it is for health, education or even just bringing folks closer to the natural world,” Lear said.
While not on any national day registrar, one day many municipalities throughout Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties celebrate is a day about town pride and coming together as a community and having fun and celebrating local resources residents may enjoy.
“The reason why we hold Aberdeen Day, which is Sept. 10 this year, … [and why] many towns do these events is to promote business opportunities [and to] generate business,” said Carmine Visone, chairman of the Aberdeen Economic Business Council.
“Many business owners tell me that the day itself really promotes so much business for them [as] many people are walking around town and looking at businesses. [The day just] does a great job for businesses.”
Aside from better-known days such as “National Day of Prayer,” observed annually on the first Thursday in May, or “National Teacher Appreciation Day,” observed on the Tuesday of the first full week in May, the National Day Calendar itself has had a hand in establishing many new “days” and “months,” such as “National Coloring Book Day,” Aug. 2, and “National Love Your Red Hair Day” on Nov. 5.
“Since we started, I think we’ve proclaimed close to 100 national days now working with individuals and companies,” Anderson said. “We have a vetting process and have about 18,000 applications a year that come through and … we OK about 30 new days a year.”
One of the lesser known days, but one sure to be a delicious treat, is “National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day,” which is celebrated on July 1.
One local establishment that offers some creative treats for residents to enjoy and celebrate each July 1 is Ice Cream on 9 in Howell. This family-owned and -operated business, which opened in 1999, makes its own ice cream, Italian ice and sugar-free flavors on site, as well as cakes and novelties. The store features more than 165 flavors of ice cream and offers 32 sugar-free flavors and 25 flavors of Italian ice.
One new day Anderson said was added to the calendar this year was “National SAFE Day,” which was celebrated June 4.
“When the selection committee looks at the applications, we look at things that we think are socially prominent at the time [and] some of them have significant impact,” he said.
“’National SAFE Day,’ about storing your firearms safely in your home, was started by a couple who lost their daughter because she was over at a friend’s place, and there was an unattended firearm lying around the house, and their daughter’s best friend picked this thing up and accidentally killed their daughter.”
Different ways to celebrate the day include Securing all firearms in a home, Asking the question about unsecure firearms in homes children visit, Frequently talking with children about the dangers of firearms, and Educating and empowering
“It is amazing how many deaths a year are attributed to this,” Anderson said. “We looked at that and were like, ‘This is something that really isn’t talked a lot about, yet there are a lot of deaths around the country and the world because firearms aren’t stored safely,’ so we felt that that was something that should be brought to national awareness.”
Another new day honors the men and women who get to see the world from among the stars.
“As crazy as it is, there was never a ‘National Astronaut Day’ before 2016,” Anderson said. “National Astronaut Day” is celebrated May 5.
In Red Bank, local officials have issued a proclamation declaring June 30 “Social Media Day,” a day of celebrating the technological advances that allow individuals to connect with real-time information, communication and have their voices heard with the click of a mouse.
“Mashable started ‘Social Media Day’ back in 2010 as a way to kind of promote communication through social media channels and just kind of to bring it to the attention to the folks at large,” said Derek Riddle, director of creative services at DefineLogic, an information technology and service company in the borough. “It started more nationally focused and [has become] internationally focused with many countries now involved.
“DefineLogic felt, ‘Hey, let’s try to get our presence out there and known and try to get the day proclaimed,’ which the town was gracious enough to do,” he said.
The company has worked for the last several years to celebrate social media of all types that not only enhance connections, but also provide tools for delivering information and business marketing.
“Last year we had a ‘See You at Red Bank’ campaign where we had basically reached out to local businesses … to promote the day leading up to it, and then on ‘Social Media Day’ we had businesses posting things that we helped them prepare to get whatever their business was oriented towards out on the social media channels, and I think it was successful,” Riddle said.
“The year before we had a more community-based contest that we put on to get the community of Red Bank involved where they went around town and were able to take selfie pictures in front of different businesses and enter this contest, and again I think it was successful.
“This year [we did] more of a self-promotion related to ‘Social Media Day’ [called] the ‘Social Media Survival Guide,’ and it’s kind of a humorous way to look at typical interactions and things like that that folks have within their social media channels and their feeds.”
Riddle said DefineLogic has put in a lot of effort to try to go out to the community and support individuals and business.
“It’s been good for us and hopefully local business as well,” he said. “We hope people have fun with it and enjoy celebrating social media. It can be a great communication tool overall, and we hope not only business, but the entire community, gets involved.”
Anderson said while days such as “National SAFE Day” might not trend on social media, the communication resource has become a valuable tool in letting individuals enjoy the simple things in life.
“As social media becomes more prominent, you start seeing more and more people celebrating something like ‘National Chocolate Day’ (celebrated annually Oct. 28) and taking a photo and posting it up so friends and family see and go, ‘Oh, we need to go and celebrate that too,’” he said. “Some days become very popular very fast because of that.
“It seems to be the more simple things in life, whether it is a doughnut or sunglasses … [that] impact more people [because] they can take a quick photo of themselves … and post it up.
“It is simple, easy and fun to do so they do that, and social media for the most part is more of a lighthearted thing … mostly people are posting on there because they want to share their life and most of the time it’s good times they’re sharing.”
Anderson said the goal of the National Day Calendar is about helping “Celebrate Every Day.”
“It is kind of a recent thing to me how much of an impact this has on the economy,” he said. “I think people look for little things to celebrate their life, whatever it is and I think this just falls into that.
“It is just something to celebrate every day, and that is our slogan, ‘Celebrate Every Day.’”
To see more of the days celebrated throughout the year, visit the National Day Calendar at www.nationaldaycalendar.com.