Mandan man follows curiosity into business of celebration

Marlo Anderson

Marlo Anderson, founder of the National Day Calendar, lives life by the mantra, “Celebrate every day.”

Marlo Anderson is living proof there’s reason to celebrate every day. As founder of the National Day Calendar – the official, authoritative source for fun, unusual and unique national days – Anderson has built a wildly popular national brand around celebration.

Anderson’s curiosity popped in 2013, as he searched for information on the internet about the national day dedicated to his favorite snack – popcorn (the movie-theater buttered kind, preferably).

“I always had a fascination around national days, but it really got started around National Popcorn Day,” Anderson says.
At the time, Anderson, known also as the “Guru of Geek,” operated a computer repair and website development business in Mandan. Combining his fascination for national days and all things tech, he started the National Day Calendar online site, where he blogged about national days and shared treasures from his research.

The site launched on Jan. 19, 2013. On what national day, you ask? National Popcorn Day, of course.

Almost immediately, the National Day Calendar, and Anderson’s notoriety, popped. Six months after National Popcorn Day, on July 31, 2013, the site surpassed 1 million unique visitors for the month.

Over the next two years, Anderson continued to research and uncover national days. Then, one week in 2015, Anderson’s worlds collided.

A reporter for The Bismarck Tribune wrote about another Anderson idea – to make Highway 83 in North Dakota, the longest contiguous road in the country, an autonomous friendly corridor. The story was picked up by the AP, became a national story, and soon Anderson was getting interview requests from across the globe.

“I finally made Popular Science!” Anderson says with a smile, recalling the science and tech magazine from his youth.

But it was a Fox News interview he’ll never forget.

“How’d you come up with this idea?” the reporter asked.

After explaining his novel transportation idea for several minutes, the reporter asked Anderson a second question, “What does this have to do with National Puppy Day?”

“It was one of those moments,” Anderson says. The other “aha” moment, he says, was receiving a letter from a mom in Williamsburg, Va. She explained how the National Day Calendar had become an important part of her son’s every day.
“You have added a great deal to the lives of a few very special people in our town,” the mother wrote, thanking Anderson for giving her son, Sam, who has Down Syndrome, “a reason to celebrate every day.”

Anderson carries that folded-up, nearly 10-year-old letter in his wallet, every day.

“We thought what we were doing was really trivial at the time. I didn’t realize how it was impacting people,” Anderson says. “It really inspired us to think larger about this project. It wasn’t a business. It was just a personal hobby that was impacting everything around here. Maybe we need to embrace what’s going on.”

When the National Day Calendar first celebrated National Popcorn Day in 2013 (it has been celebrated as a national day since at least 1988), only about 40 national days were celebrated in the United States, Anderson says. Since then, the National Day Calendar team has uncovered 1,200 national days and added 400 of their own. In 2022, the National Day Calendar trended more than 400 times on social media.

“It has turned into the biggest trending topic of all time. We have a reach some days of over 1 billion people, out of this little office in Mandan, N.D. It’s just the most incredible thing,” Anderson says.

And, North Dakota has, at times, gotten to share the spotlight.

Like in 2022, when the Checkers and Rally’s chain of restaurants drove its “Fry Love Express” to Mandan on July 14 to celebrate National French Fry Day being moved from a Wednesday to a Friday. “CBS Sunday Morning” was there to cover the event, and stayed in North Dakota for three days to do a piece on the National Day Calendar, which aired in January 2022.

“Bringing ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ to Mandan, that doesn’t just happen. We’ve had the ability to bring unique things here,” Anderson says. “I’m proud of our state and being from North Dakota. I wear things that say ‘Mandan’ on it.”

Despite his success and notoriety, both in the tech space and with national days, the Des Lacs native insists he’s still the “Guru of Geek” he’s always been. But, his platform allows him to share his passions – technology, futurism, entrepreneurship and national days – with audiences across the country, from classrooms to startups, companies and the media. He is also filming a TV show, recently finished a YouTube miniseries, hosts a popular national tech talk radio show called “The Tech Ranch,” and is working on an artificial photosynthesis invention with NASA. He takes none of it, he insists, for granted.

“Our mantra is to ‘celebrate every day,’ and when you’re in the business of celebration, overall, my outlook of life has changed,” he says. “People need to celebrate more. The world is really divided.”

Whether it’s Fruitcake Toss Day, Let’s Laugh Day, Pizza Party Day, Corn on the Cob Day, Cow Appreciation Day or Blueberry Popsicle Day, there is power in celebrating every day.

“One thing is for sure: I don’t care how you feel about climate change or whatever (issue), but if you both love coffee, you can sit down for National Coffee Day, because you have commonality there,” Anderson says. “So, I think national days help bring people together. And that, to me, is probably the driving force behind why it’s popular.”
Cally Peterson is editor of North Dakota Living. She can be reached at

Visit to purchase your printed 2024 National Day Calendar, for more information on national days and to find ways to celebrate every day.

Jan. 24: Peanut Butter Day
Feb. 7: Send a Card to a Friend Day
March 15: Everything You Think Is Wrong Day (followed by Everything You Do Is Right Day, March 16)
April 20: Lima Bean Respect Day
May 24: Scavenger Hunt Day
June 4: Cheese Day
July 23: Gorgeous Grandma Day
Aug. 16: Tell a Joke Day
Sept. 7: Beer Lover’s Day
Oct. 1: Pumpkin Spice Day
Nov. 15: Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day
Dec. 23: Pfeffernusse Day