Here's a story that appeared in the Louisville Courier this morning.
Poles for Festivus made for the rest of us
"You either know what Festivus is or you don't," says Tony Leto, executive vice president for sales and marketing at the Wagner Cos. in Milwaukee.
If you don't, Festivus is an anti-holiday that even Scrooge could love: a celebration that captured the popular imagination in December 1997 when the Festivus rituals (the "Airing of Grievances" and the "Feats of Strength") and the central Festivus pole (which takes the place of a tree) were introduced to the world on a "Seinfeld" episode.
Till now, most Festivusians made their Festivus poles out of aluminum tubing. But Leto, 52, who went to school with Jerry Seinfeld, and the Wagner Cos. are changing that, with modestly priced Festivus poles ($38 plus shipping for a 6-foot one, $30 for a table-top model; see http://www.festivuspoles.com for ordering information).
Christmas trees have all those annoying needles and branches. They smell. They require water. If they're neglected, they catch fire. Do you think the Festivus pole is proof of intelligent design?
Ha ha! Not in the classical sense related to evolution. If anything, it's a devolution of the Christmas celebration, basically going back to a time of simpler things. The Christmas tree has evolved to extremes -- like the upside-down Christmas tree. I think the Festivus pole is the ultimate rejection of the idea that you should pay $500 to have a tree hanging from your ceiling.
Well, speaking of simplicity, I understand that orthodox Festivusians don't even allow tinsel on their poles. But what if I want a sentimental Festivus with warm lights, a star or an angel at the top of the pole; what will happen?
The nice thing about Festivus is that it's basically whatever you want to do. Frank Costanza said he found tinsel distracting, and the essence of the pole is that it should be, as they say, lusterless and plain. … There will be no bad effects from overly decorating. It's just that you'll be betraying your faith in … Festivus and you might as well put up a tree.
Bill O'Reilly and others say that because some folks call their trees "holiday" trees instead of Christmas trees, there's a "war on Christmas." Do you think Festivus poles will ever be called "holiday" poles?
No, because the nature of Festivus is that it's not related to any religion. It's probably the most neutral and most acceptable holiday.
You work for a very large, national firm that manufactures architectural and industrial products. I'm just curious: There must have been a meeting where you suggested the idea of making Festivus poles. What was that like?
That was a year ago. There was an article in The New York Times about Festivus poles, and I was just tickled by it. I … bought the domain name festivuspoles.com figuring we could certainly make this product. And I went to the executive group and said, "Hey, what do you think? I bought festivuspoles.com." And they all just looked at me funny. … And then I … bought the book ("Festivus, the Holiday for the Rest of Us," by Allen Salkin) and went to Bob Wagner, president of the company, and said, "Look what I found." He smiled, and I said, "We've got to get this done right away." … I called a special meeting and … said, "We gotta make a base and have this Festivus pole ready to go to market within two weeks." And they all looked at me, and then they all smiled.