It won't be long now before up on the rooftops reindeer will paw, and that got me to thinking about the names of Santa's harnessed herd of 8 tiny reindeer.

Burl Ives made famous the names in a cherished TV Christmas special 53 years ago and that was preceded by a book and poem written in 1823!

"You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, Comet, and Cupid, and Donder and Blitzen But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?"

So, a couple of hot buttered rums later, I got to wondering if there was a parallel with the Yakima Valley. What would Santa have named the reindeer if the North Pole was, say, North First Street?

Let's start with Dasher. Sounds fast doesn't he? Only nothing really moves too fast in Yakima. Yakamanians like to take their time and are often late to arrive at events.

In fact, Yakima has a reputation with talent bookers and agents as a "late to buy tickets" kinda crowd. Our“walk up” mentality means many shows have canceled over the years on the fear that slow advance ticket sales means nobody will show up. So we need to change Dasher to -- POKEY...as in slow pokey.

Dancer? That's easy! What comes to my mind is the cheery music and colorful costumes of the talented and enthusiastic Hispanic dancers at various celebrations around the valley such as the big Cinco De Mayo celebration. So for my money, Dancer becomes CINCO!

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Prancer too is a no-brainer. Look at the immense popularity of Zumba exercise/dance classes offered at virtually all the exercise facilities around the valley. No doubt about it, they're all prancing to Zumba so Prancer has to be ZUMBA!

What about Vixen? A beauty or an ill tempered woman. Hmmm ...The hot Yakima Valley sun can be a beauty and she can be a beast when she pushes temperatures over 100 degrees for a couple of weeks each summer so I'm going with the beautiful, golden and oft scorching sun. Our vixen rename is SUNSHINE!

Comet is a little tougher to corral. A bright shining shooting star is what is hoped for Yakima's city core. Progress is well underway. The energy and development are readily apparent and the Plaza could be the signature comet tail so I'm going with DOWNTOWN for our fifth name.

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Next in the hitch is Cupid and if your wish is to romance her, then here is the answer - Gasperetti's Restaurant and Lounge. Great food, drinks and atmosphere where the trendy and the hipsters hang out, particularly in the lounge. So Cupid in Yakima is the G-SPOT (um, the "G" is for Gasperetti, of course!)

Controversy swirls around the next reindeer's name. Is it Donner or Donder or even Dunder? A case can be made for all three when you consider the historical record. Here in the Yakima valley we have a number of cities proud of their local identities with interesting names that look to support multiple pronunciations as well. Places like Wapato, Naches, Cowiche, even Yakima itself. So, however they are pronounced or mispronounced, folks here love their communities and that all combines to make HOMETOWN the next name in the reindeer game!

And finally Blitzen or Blitzem. Either way, the word conjures up the image of someone who just might be a little bit happily “blitzed” as we used to say. Perhaps from enjoying a craft beer or one of the many world class wines the valley produces. You can’t go wrong either way but for our sleigh it’s FINE WINE. And there you have it!

To complete the picture Santa would be the late great Bob Clem, Lance Tormey, the voice of the valley for 30 years could do the narration and Rudolph, well that's a story to tell after a few more hot buttered rums!

So on Pokey, and Cinco, on Zumba, and Sunshine...on Downtown and G-Spot, on HomeTown and Fine Wine...fitting names if all the reindeer lived here, we’d feed them Timothy hay and warm hoppy beer! Our story is finished, and we got it just right, so Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!! *