If you’re celebrating an obscure holiday today, you might want to thank Rick McNeely, aka the “Holiday Guy.”
McNeely actually “owns” and has created several holidays. His most popular, he said, is National Selfie Day, June 21.
Among the others he’s attested to owning are National Baseball Day (April 22), National Barbecue Day (May 16), National Brisket Day (May 28), National Hamburger Day (May 28), National Donut Day (June 3), National Sex Day (June 9), National Video Game Day (July 8), National Hip Hop Day (Aug. 11) and National Chicken Fried Steak Day (Oct 26), and more.
“I got the name Holiday Guy from an interview I did for a college newspaper two years ago, based on the many holidays I’ve created,” McNeely said. “I got the idea from a holiday calendar called Brownielocks. They have every crazy holiday ever invented. They also offer the way to make your own holiday and get it displayed on their website. It’s where all of my holidays are displayed.”
McNeely explained that to own a holiday, you simply have to buy the domain and website. He noted the folks at Brownielocks do legal research to make sure the holiday is available to become yours.
“Once it’s placed on the calendar, it’s up to the owner to promote it,” he said. “That’s the key — online promotion, hashtags, etc. That’s how holidays go viral.”
Barbie Marin of Fort Worth is one of those who has responded to the viral responses.
“He thinks of ways we can all celebrate and bring knowledge,” she said. “I celebrated National Sex Day, which brings awareness and knowledge to all things sexually related.”
How it started
McNeely was raised in an Air Force family and lived throughout Europe as a child. He was born in the Philippines on an Air Force base and moved to Fort Worth in 2003.
His fascination began when he was only 9 years old living in Europe. He learned of National Hot Dog Week and was overjoyed with the idea of eating hot dogs all week as part of a celebration.
“I was very excited because I wanted to eat hot dogs for seven days. My mom crushed my hopes and dreams by telling me it’s not a real holiday — but that stuck with me,” he said. “Why was that holiday on a printed calendar? For what reason? Who started it?
“I never forgot that experience. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with the holiday idea.”
His two favorite holidays, though he does not own them, are Halloween and New Year’s Eve.
It all started with Selfie Day. He chose June 21 because it’s the day summer solstice (the longest day of the year) usually falls on, is the start of summer and many folks are on vacation. The holiday was first celebrated in 2014.
“I simply wanted to start a holiday to see if it would catch on. No more, no less,” McNeely said. “I don’t take many selfies, but so many people do.
“In 2016, it went viral on Twitter and it became a big annual event. I never thought it would go global - it did!”
McNeely said National Selfie Day is now actually celebrated globally.
“Rick just likes to make people smile and make them happy. I think he bases his holidays around that,” said Sara Brooks of Burleson. “Like Selfie Day, that one grew fast and now we see people from all over celebrating it.
“My favorite is Barbecue Day. I’m a Texas girl and I love my barbecue. A good fall-off-the-bone rack of ribs will get me smiling for sure.”
McNeely is a DJ for the Fishbowl Radio Network in Bedford. This is his 13th year on the air with his online show “Alley Rally.” One of his most popular segments is when he informs his listeners of interesting holidays — many they likely don’t even know exist.
“Every Wednesday when I do my show, I always do a reading from the calendar for my listeners. I get positive feedback weekly,” he said.
He is also an actor, claiming numerous small parts, commercials and independent movies to his credit. He was also a touring comic for three years and he plays bass guitar.
But creating and owning holidays just might be his greatest passion. In all, he has well over 25 to his name — with more ideas.
“I always have holiday ideas. I don’t have any to introduce at this time. It’s hard to juggle the ones I have now,” he said with a chuckle. “My family thinks I’m crazy doing all of these holidays - in a good way though. My dad is my biggest fan. He loves Selfie Day.
“I like the off-the-wall holidays because they are silly, but fun.”
McNeely said he wanted to own the major barbecue and food holidays to keep them in Texas.
“Barbecue Day, Brisket Day, Burger Day and Chicken Fried Steak Day will remain a Texas staple of food forever, and now the world can celebrate them with us,” he said.
McNelly said his main goal is to turn his holidays into celebrations with festivals, cookoffs, carnivals and other annual events. He cited National Hot Dog Day, still one of his favorites as an example with its national press coverage and, of course, the legendary Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest each July 4.
“We attempted to break the world record for the most selfies in one hour, but we failed. Maybe we can try again next year,” he said. “It would be nice to have the holiday and a world record in our state.”