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Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Creator Robert May To Be Honored By Hudson Valley Hometown

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer creator Robert L. May (pictured with his daughter in 1964) will be inducted into New Rochelle's "Walk of Fame" on Sunday, Dec. 4.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer creator Robert L. May (pictured with his daughter in 1964) will be inducted into New Rochelle's "Walk of Fame" on Sunday, Dec. 4. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Rankin Bass &

You may not know the name Robert L. May, but chances are good that you’ve heard of the iconic, misfit reindeer he created more than 80 years ago.

May, a New York native who conceived the character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is set to be honored by his Westchester County hometown of New Rochelle on Sunday, Dec. 4, according to a city statement.

He’ll be inducted into New Rochelle’s “Walk of Fame” at the Rudolph Rocs New Ro holiday festival, located at Ruby Dee Park on Library Green from 3 to 5 p.m.

The festival is described as a winter wonderland, with Rudolph characters, music and dancing, arts and crafts, make-a-gift, face-painting, and a gingerbread bounce house.

Those attending are asked to dress as a reindeer. Free antlers and red noses will be provided.

May came up with the idea for Santa’s ninth reindeer in 1939 while working as an advertising copywriter for Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago.

The company had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas each year and decided to create their own book in an effort to save money.

He later said his daughter liked reindeer and that he got the idea for Rudolph’s red nose while staring out of his office window in downtown Chicago, overlooking a foggy Lake Michigan.

He reportedly toyed around with the names Rollo and Reginald before settling on Rudolph.

Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the story in its first year of publication with a mass market edition arriving in 1947.

In 1949, May’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, adapted Rudolph’s story into the famous song that kids know and love today.

The stop-motion animated movie premiered on TV in 1964 and has since become an annual holiday tradition for many families.

Sunday’s induction ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. and will be attended by members of the May family, officials said.

"My siblings and I are thrilled that our father is being honored by his childhood ‘hometown’ of New Rochelle,” May’s daughter, Martha May, said.

“He would be so pleased to know that Rudolph's story continues to give joy and inspiration, particularly to children who need that extra boost of confidence and courage."

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