51 Weeks: 51 Songs From The Past: Week 49: Gayla Peevey – I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas

It’s that time of year when many of us tune in our ears to festive songs; many of which only make it out once a year (just like Father Christmas). I don’t know about you, but I’m sure I can hear the distant sound of sleigh bells. Then again, maybe I shouldn’t have had that final glass of sherry last night?

Hold on to your seats, and most of all your hats, because we’re about to take my music time machine as far back as it has been during our trip.

51 weeks 51 songs from the past poster

Here we are in the year 1953, where we’re about to meet a ten-year-old girl who was about to get an unusual Christmas present that I’m happy I didn’t have to gift wrap.

How cute is that song? And did you check out what happened at the end of the video? How cool was that?

Also known as The Christmas Hippo Song, it was thought to have been released to raise funds to buy the zoo in Ponca City, in Oklahoma, a hippopotamus. However, in a radio interview in 2007, Gayla clarified that the song was not originally recorded as a fundraiser. Instead, a local promoter picked up on the popularity of the song and launched a campaign to present her with an actual hippo on Christmas Day! That’s a gift with a difference, wouldn’t you say?

The song made it all the way to number 24 on the Billboard magazine pop charts, and Gayla had already decided to donate her gift to the zoo. I don’t blame her. I’d have done exactly the same thing. I mean where on earth do you keep a hippopotamus over Christmas? 🤔

Over the years since the song was first released, it still attracts a lot of attention, and there are a few versions of the song on the internet.

Last week, I asked everyone to share the first of their three favourite festive songs. This week showcase the second of your favourite songs by leaving a link to it in the comments.

Thank you to everyone who left a link to their first favourite festive song. And, a big thank you to Marie and Kat who both published a post about a favourite festive song.

Next week I’ll be showcasing my penultimate song for this feature. I hope you can join me in finding out what it is.

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  1. Reblogged this on Jemsbooks and commented:
    A fun song for everyone for Christmas! Enjoy this delightful little girl and watch the video after the end of the song for a surprise! Thank you, Hugh Roberts, for sharing this adorable song! Merry Christmas everyone!!

  2. Hugh, this is adorable! What a fun post. Even though this song is even older than me, I’m sure most radio stations still played it when I was a kid. But I only vaguely remember it… However, growing up in a small Bible Belt town, they were big on censorship, and disapproved of secular Christmas songs. Maybe it was just that…
    Anyhow thanks for sharing the fun. Hugs.

  3. Pingback: Linus and Lucy
  4. I have heard that song, but always thought it was Shirley Temple who’d sung it. Was great to watch and while watching it I had wondered if she was still with us. Was great to see the end and see her sing it again 🙂 Lovely

  5. Perfect song for the holiday season Hugh. Thanks for the bit ‘o history on the song. And thanks, now I can’t get the tune out of my head! LOLLLLLLLLLLLLL 🙂 xxxxxx

  6. Hi Hugh,

    Now, this is a true story. When I was a little boy, (1948 or 1949) my parents took me to see Santa Claus at the main department store in Fort Worth, Texas. As they did in those years, you had your picture taken with Santa and given to the parents. It was revealed that Santa that particular day was Gene Autry. He was doing some promotional work and volunteered to be Santa. I still have that picture. So for my contribution, it has to be Gene Autry’s famous Christmas song. https://youtu.be/7ara3-hDH6I

    1. And what a great true story that is, Chuck. We did the same thing in the UK and always had our photo taken with Santa Claus. I haven’t seen the photos in years, but they must be somewhere within the family. My younger sister would always scream when we went to see Santa. She was frightened of him, unlike me who wanted to be Santa Claus when he grew up. 🎅
      Thanks for sharing that memory and the song with us, Chuck.

    1. Thanks, Marie. I’ve also added your choice of song to my favourite list. It’s a wonderful Christmas song. Thanks for introducing it to us.
      I really appreciate you joining in with this challenge during this year. It’s been great listening to all the songs you introduced to us.
      Have a safe trip and a Merry Christmas to you and your family. 🎄

  7. What a cute song. It’s very random I suppose. I’ve got a very random song that would equal this but I’ll save it for Friday and play it at the party. As for my second fave Xmas song I will not think too much about it and say Last Christmas an I will now go off and cry next to the Christmas tree ;(

    1. I hear that people are trying to get that song to the number one spot this Christmas. Given it never made it to the number one spot before, I hope it does go to the very top of the charts. See you at the party on Friday.

  8. I recently put back into the iprecious my ‘Christmas music’ playlist, set it on random, and was horrified to hear the “Hippopotamus” song was in it! It must be a virus.

  9. A few years ago, my church choir (I was in it) sang this song. It cracks me up to sing it much less hear it. I was well received (thank goodness or God) they had a good sense of humor about it. Here is one you will love (our choir sang this too): “Rigging Up the Lights”

    1. What a fun song and fun video, Terri. I think that little boy did a great job rigging up the lights. My nephew (who is now 17) always puts up all the lights outside my sister’s house. He’s been doing it since he was nine years old. As the Halloween lights come down, so the Christmas lights go up. My sister always complains about the electricity bill she gets, but thank goodness she’s never stopped him putting up the lights.
      Thanks for sharing that song with us.

  10. I love this song, Hugh! The video was fun to watch and especially the end. Thanks for sharing. I shared with my grandchildren. I think they will get a kick out of it too! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours! Hugs xx

    1. Thanks for sharing the song with your Grandchildren, Janice. So pleased they enjoyed it. I’ve always loved this song ever since my Grandmother first introduced it to me when I was very young. She also sang it to me while I was in my pram (so she told me).
      Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. 🎄

      1. Thank you, Hugh. I wish you the same blessings! I can’t stop singing that song! It will be in my head for a long time now! LOL! Catchy tune! 🌲 present 🎁 ♥️

  11. I didn’t hear this song until sometime in the 90’s when my middle kid decided it was their favorite Christmas song. It’s definitely a fun and unique song! 🙂

  12. I’ve loved that song since I heard it a couple of years ago! So funny!
    Going in the vein of funny… here’s mine! All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!

    1. Wow, what was that little girl wearing, Ritu? I do remember the song, though (now I’m showing my age). I think I’d rather wrap up two front teeth than a hippopotamus. Great choice of song. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    1. I never heard that song before, Darlene, and I see there are lots of versions of it on the internet. The only time I was about to head to the heat and sun for Christmas was the year I tripped over and broke my arm a few days before the flight. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to fly and haven’t dared to try to leave the country for Christmas since then.
      As for Gayla, she went on to record as Jamie Horton, scoring the Billboard Hot 100-charter “My Little Marine” in 1960. That was her only other hit.

  13. This is such a great song choice, Hugh. I totally agree with you. How cute is that song? So cute!!! And the ending is absolutely perfect! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Thanks for that link, Annette. I never knew about that song or that Ringo sang it. A very nice choice.
      Glad you enjoyed my choice. I thought having that ending was a very nice touch. I’m still wondering if Santa can get a hippopotamus on his sleigh? 🤔

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