In 1787, George Washington heralded the coming Christmas season in a rather unusual way - by renting a Camel. His goal was to entertain his guests, which we are sure he did.
Washington has a keen interest in unusual animals and would often pay to see them in real life. Traveling entertainers often came through Mt. Vernon with many different types of "circus" animals such as lions and what was then called a sea leopard, or sea lion.
No records are left to indicate how the camel came to Mt. Vernon in 1787, but many came to see it. Washington paid 18 shillings for the privilege of exhibiting the animal, or about $90 in today's currency. $90 in 1787 was a small fortune. One dollar in 1787 is worth around $26 dollars today, so Washington paid close to $2340. That's a lot of straw.
Today, you can still visit a camel at Mt. Vernon. Every Christmas season, Aladdin the Camel visits, so look for him if you are in the neighborhood this coming month.
Photo: Mt. Verson.org