PHOENIX - What is Christmas without a pageant? And what is a pageant without a live nativity -- that includes animals? One Valley man and his camel play a special role during the holidays, and "Elvis" gets a lot of attention year-round.
If you find yourself driving on 7th Avenue, just north of Carefree Highway, you'll likely make a stop to check out a very unexpected sight: Elvis the camel is really, well, quite interesting and full of personality.
"That's one of the things that we hear often. People will pull up and they say well, that's one thing you don't see everyday. I go, oh yes, it is."
Jerry Conrad doesn't think a camel living in the front yard of his Desert Hills home is all that out of the ordinary and he didn't give it a second thought when his phone rang ten years ago.
"We picked up Elvis in Yuma, brought him here and we bottle fed him. We fed him every four hours 24/7 for four months," he said.
Conrad studies YouTube.com videos, taught Elvis how to behave like a camel and eventually perform like one.
"He's very inquisitive. He likes looking at the lights and things like that and the people. Camels like being.. they like the attention or Elvis does."
Attention is something Elvis never lags.
Conrad welcomes visitors. He says they keep Elvis social.
Elvis loves treats visitors bring, like apples and carrots. His diet consists of Bermuda grass -- two to three feedings a day.
He loves being brushed, but what he seems to love most is Conrad.
"With animals, especially big animals, if you respect them and you take care of them right, they respect you back and they listen and he is special."
Maybe it was the midnight bottle feedings. Maybe the visits to local schools and senior centers, but there's no doubt the bond Conrad and Elvis share certainly is special.
The last show of the Dream City Church's Christmas pageant was on December 19, but Conrad welcomes people to visit any time.