By Chet Greason
For the 28th time since 1985, the teddy bears will once again meet in St. Marys to catchup, play games, and discuss whatever issues teddy bears find pertinent.
The Annual Teddy Bear Reunion takes place on Sunday, Aug. 18 at East Ward Park. The parade begins at St. Marys DCVI at 1 p.m., travelling north up James Street before turning onto Elizabeth Street. The parade ends at the Reunion, where there will be games, vendors, activities, and music to be enjoyed.
Once again, prizes will be awarded to the best decorated wagon or bike in the parade. As well, additional prizes will go to youthful participants according to various categories, including the best owner look-alike, the best sportsman teddy, the largest teddy, the best dressed for the season (such as summer and winter-themed costumes), best dressed teddy (formal wear), and best career oriented teddy.
Organizers have decided to drop the adult prize categories so that more focus can be given to the children.
It should also be noted that only real stuffed teddies will be counted in the competitions. Wooden, plastic, or human teddies will not be recognized. Also, in the name of proper taxonomy, panda bears, as they’re not technically bears, will also be excluded from judging.
New this year will be Wes Bennett’s petting zoo, featuring rabbits, chickens, and other fascinating animals that children can interact with, Children’s musical group Pix & Sticks will perform from the main stage. There will also be sno-cones, free balloon animals, bouncy castles and slides, and the ever popular bear repair station.
Teddy bears date back to the early 20th century. U.S. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, while on a hunting trip, refused to shoot a bear that had been tied to a tree by his staff as he deemed it unsportsmanlike. The press got a hold of the story, and a New York City toymaker began making a cute, stuffed bear, naming it “Teddy’s Bear” after the President. The toy went on to become wildly popular.
Years later, the bears still gather in St. Marys with their owners. Children of all ages are welcome to dress up, bring their bears, and march in the parade. The Teddy Bear Reunion is fun for both young and old. Check it out!