After waiting for a year, hundreds of teddy bears put on their best faces last Friday as they proudly took their owners to the Fort Frances Public Library’s annual Teddy Bear Picnic.
Over 500 children were on hand, with lawn chairs and picnic blankets stretched across the field between the library and courthouse. Eager tots raced from game to game, or to introduce their teddies to some new friends.
“Last year we had the jail incident,” Margaret Sedgwick, head librarian at the Fort Frances Public Library, recalled. “I got a call at 6 a.m. to say that the whole area was cordoned off. We had to move it to the high school.
“This is a whole lot easier,” she said, glancing at the crowd.
Several Fun in the Sun pageant contestants and “Friends of the Library” volunteers helped children bounce on inflatable toys, painted faces, and ran games for them to enjoy.
“This is just something to kick off the summer. It has become a tradition for many families,” Sedgwick continued.
Meghan Metke, seven, has attended for the picnic for the past three years. This year, she brought stuffed bear, “Strawberry,” to share in the activities.
“I like it. It’s really, really fun,” she enthused just after having her face painted like a bear.
Meanwhile, four-year-old Brendon Hamerla was taking his pal, “Little Bear,” to see Dr. Elaine Spencer at the teddy clinic.
“He’s got a broken leg and he got it in a cast,” the youngster explained. “He sort of jumped into a dinosaur a long time ago. That’s how he broke it.
“You know he’s not afraid of anything. Not if I’m around,” Brendon added as he was handed back his brown bear with a cast around its right leg.
Dr. Spencer treated a number of teddies with broken legs, including three-year-old Juliana Gallas’ friend, “Teddy Bear.”
“He broke it playing in the yard,” she said, cradling the black-and-white stuffed panda.
Teddy bears and bear-lovers also were treated to a fortune teller at the picnic. Tasha Wagner, nine, took her stuffed companion “Buddy” to have his paw read.
Madame Ramona (played by Wendy Judson), sporting jet black hair and bangled bracelets, peered into the crystal ball. She got Tasha to pick a magic stone for her friend and then revealed their fortune in a hushed tone only Tasha could here.
Then Tasha and “Buddy” made a wish with Madame Ramona’s help.
“If your wish don’t come true, it’s not for real,” Tasha reasoned.
By the end of the two-hour event, tuckered tots barely were able to drag their teddy bears away from the games to return home—until next year.