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If it's National (Fill-in-the-Blank) Day, ND man was likely behind it

Marlo Anderson of Mandan has created a website and social media presence that celebrates hundreds of “National (fill-in-the-blank) Day” designations. Wednesday is National Lollipop Day.Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 2
Marlo Anderson of Mandan has created a website and social media presence that celebrates hundreds of “National (fill-in-the-blank) Day” designations. Wednesday is National Lollipop Day.Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO—It seems like there's a national day for just about everything these days, and a North Dakota company is a big reason why.

Marlo Anderson of Mandan is behind National Day Calendar, an online presence that celebrates hundreds of past national day designations and accepts applications, and payment, to make up new ones. It's one of the go-to sites on the web for people looking for another reason to honor their favorite food, drink, animal, cause or past time.

The calendar is one of numerous subjects the self-proclaimed "Guru of Geek" is expected to touch on when he speaks at TEDxFargo on Thursday, July 21 in downtown Fargo.

It began as a hobby for Anderson, 53, who grew up in tiny Des Lacs, N.D., near Minot, and sparked the start of the website in January 2013.

Since then, it's turned into something much bigger.

The website and accompanying social media presence have created some big buzz, with references on the "Good Morning America" and "Today" shows and a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. Anderson said things really took off when they started using standardized hashtags. For example, Wednesday, July 20 is #NationalLollipopDay. The company’s default hashtag is #CelebrateEveryDay.

"We trended over 200 times in 2015 on Twitter," Anderson said. "Most businesses would kill for that and we don't even notice anymore."

Of the 18,000 or so applications Anderson says he receives annually, he and his team approve only about 30.

"To get a national day is pretty special," Anderson said.

It comes at a price.

For $2,300, National Day will proclaim your special day, add it to the calendar and send an alert to some 20,000 media outlets nationwide.

Paying $4,500, plus compensation for time and travel, adds a personal visit from Marlo Anderson and his wife, Alice. Earlier this week, the two visited Chicago courtesy of the American Licorice Company, which received its own National Sour Candy Day in honor of its sour punch candies line.

"They rented a food truck, had it wrapped with 'National Sour Candy Day' and we drove up and down the streets of Chicago handing out sour candy," Anderson said.

Consider Greg Kempel of Maple River Winery in Casselton another satisfied customer. He and Anderson became friends through Pride of Dakota, an organization that promotes North Dakota businesses, products and services.

Kempel's company is most well known for its award-winning strawberry rhubarb wine and received a National Day Calendar designation for it in 2013, on the third Saturday in July.

He says the investment has paid for itself four to six times over and brought recognition to the small "mom and pop" business.

"We've had people hashtag us who are drinking our wine in Alaska, California and Arizona," Kempel said.

There are certain calendar designations Anderson can't or won't do, including birthdays, anniversaries and individuals. Adult-themed requests are off-limits too.

He also wants his staff to begin retiring some days that aren't really socially relevant anymore.

"Like bittersweet chocolate covered almond day," Anderson said. "It's been around a long time, since the mid 1800s."

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