As most of you know, I’m a reindeer collector. Yes, I admit it. I love all things reindeer. There are over 500 reindeer oriented items in my collection (I haven’t counted this year, so let’s just stick to the “over 500” figure.) They keep watch from kitchen shelves, tops of cabinets, hallways and peek out from even the tightest corners BUT I don’t have any Magical Reindeer Gems!!!
How did I ever miss these?
The creative little elves and a fantastic PR drive at Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, has made these bits and pieces (or would that be “blobs” ) of sterilized reindeer dung a sought after, “gotta have” item this year. Yep, you heard me right. “Reindeer Dung!!!” Sign me up for the 2010 advance sales list, please. (Seriously. Santa, if you’re reading this, I really do NEED one of these.)
They always say, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” So, in this case, “One critter’s s--- (err) excrement is another being’s GEMS !?!
Each piece is handmade and includes one “gem”. Volunteers actually collect dime-sized bits of reindeer droppings (“gems“)which are then dehydrated, sanitized in a an autoclave machine, painted with glittery paint and drilled to attach a hanging loop or ring.
They actually made the first ornaments last year and sold them in the zoo’s gift shop. They were a hit and, as news spread, sales went national. (They have received international requests too but it seems there are federal regulations that don’t allow reindeer droppings to be exported.) Last year, they sold over $5,000 worth of gems.
This year, in response to customer requests, the necklaces were added to the product line. They sold out of the 2000 ornaments and 100 necklaces for proceeds of about $16, 500. (Ornies sell for $7.50 in the gift shop, $10 by mail and necklaces at $15 and $20, respectively.) Kudos to those who came up with a constructive means of battling the city’s budget cuts to the zoo’s operating budget.
As the story goes, these unique little ornaments and necklaces grew out of a tale told by retired Miller Park Zoo Superintendant, John Tobias. Or, maybe, the story developed around these creations. (After all, everybody needs a gimmick, right?)
It went something like this:
"John’s grandmother used to gather her grandchildren and take them outside on Christmas Eve to scatter homemade chocolate chips. She would tell the children that the chips would attract Santa and his reindeer to their home because reindeer would know that other reindeer had already visited and left droppings…”So … it follows, that if you hang a Magical Reindeer Gem ornament on your tree or wear one of these necklaces on Christmas Eve, it will help Santa and his reindeer find their way to your house !
If you’d like information about the 2010 Gem product availability forwarded to you when available, please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to have your email address added to her mailing list.
As I said, I’ve got to get one of these for next Christmas!