According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the popular Christmas song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was written by two people, including Broken Arrow native, Ralph Blane. It was written for the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” starring Judy Garland.
Another fact is that “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” was recorded by Oklahoma City native Gayla Peevey. The Oklahoma Historical Society says the song was recorded in 1953 and the record peaked at #24 on the Billboard Music Chart. It also sold more than 300,000 copies.
The OKC Zoo utilized the song’s popularity and launched a fund-raising campaign to “buy a hippo for Gayla”. School children in the area donated more than $3,000 to buy Peevey a baby hippo named Matilda. Baby Matilda was donated to the zoo by Peevey on December 23, 1953. Matilda lived at the Oklahoma City Zoo for 45 years.
Another fun fact from the Oklahoma City Historical Society is that mistletoe is Oklahoma’s oldest symbol. Officials say it was chosen as Oklahoma Territory’s floral emblem in 1893, but also caused some controversy.
Early settlers who supported mistletoe were not aware it was a parasitic plant. Instead, they used mistletoe to decorate graves during the hard winter of 1889. “Mistletoe Leaves”, a bimonthly newsletter published by the Oklahoma Historical Society, takes its name from the emblem.