For the Love of Teddy Bears

--By: Alison Stanton

Regardless of what they look like, for more than 100 years, the teddy bear has held a place near and dear to our hearts.

On Friday, in recognition of our love affair with teddy bears and in honor of National Teddy Bear Day, several vendors from Catlin Court in historic downtown Glendale, along with the Glendale Office of Tourism, are offering a special bear-filled event. advertisement

According to Jennifer Liewer, spokeswoman for the city, participants will begin their day at the Glendale Visitor Center, 5800 W. Glenn Drive, Suite 140, by picking up a "Teddy Bear Pack."

"It's got some information about the downtown area in it, plus coupons, goodies and candy," Liewer said.

People will then be divided into groups named for different bears - "like the Panda bear group," Liewer said - and everyone will follow the "Teddy Bear Trail" in Catlin Court for two hours of bear-filled fun.

For example, Liewer said, at the Creative Quest, 7146 N. 57th Drive, everyone will get the chance to make teddy bear stationery. At Kimberly Ann's, 7153 N. 59th Ave., enthusiasts will enjoy a teddy bear tea. At Sunshine's Photography, 7157 N. 59th Drive, participants can have their photo taken with their favorite stuffed friend.

Finally, at Bears & More, 7146 N. 58th Drive, people will meet Ben Raffle, a local teddy bear artist who designed the commemorative poster for the event. There, everyone will be given a free teddy bear.

Linda Burner, who co-owns Bears & More with daughter-in-law Valerie Burner, said she is a huge fan of teddy bears. Of the 7,000 plush animals filling her store, she estimates more than 5,000 are bears.

"Everyone who loves bears thinks they've died and gone to heaven when they come here," the Peoria resident said, laughing.

Linda said she knows of several people who will be traveling thousands of miles to attend the festivities.

"We have people coming from as far as North Carolina and the state of Florida to this special teddy bear event," she said.

Liewer said she is looking forward to the day and, like Linda Burner, she is also expecting it to be extremely popular.

"National Teddy Bear Day has been around for some time, but this is our first year for the event," the Glendale resident said, adding that she thinks the activities will be especially appealing to collectors. "We've targeted the collectors and the older kids," she said. "For whatever reason, teddy bears will have a special place in their hearts.

"A lot of people remember a good time in their life and can associate it with something in their lives, and for a lot of people, a teddy bear means something special to them."

Liewer speaks from experience. She said she still has her favorite teddy bear from childhood tucked away in a box at home.

"He was a brown little bear with the white paws. His name is Teddy."

Linda Burner understands.

"I still sleep with a bear," she said.

Like most people, Linda's love of bears can be traced to childhood.

"I had rheumatic fever as a child and had to stay home for a whole year," she said, adding that spending time with a stuffed teddy she simply called "Bear" helped her pass the long days.

"I never named my bears," she said, adding that she still has Bear on display.

Linda, who spends each and every day surrounded by teddy bears, said it's easy to understand why so many adults still have such a fondness for teddy bears.

"They bring back nostalgia from childhood," she said. "It's something warm and fuzzy.

"Everybody needs a bear. Everyone who doesn't have one should have someone give them one - it's the best way to get a bear."