By JULIE REPPERT
his holiday season, the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society, 858 W. Fourth St., will present a special exhibit treat for museum-goers young and old - teddy bears.
Area community members are asked to lend their childhood teddy bears to the museum for the exhibit, which will run from Nov. 10 to Jan. 19. The bears will be carefully attended to, and Gary Parks, museum director, said he promises not to overfeed them.
All teddy bears will be accompanied by their story, provided by the owner, and will be placed in cabinets and posed in a setting with miniature furniture and props.
The museum has received about 30 to 35 teddy bears from area folks anxious to share their childhood friends with exhibit attendees, but Parks said he would love to have 50 or 60 bears on display.
"I found that many of the bears are coming in with themes," Parks said. "We have sports bears and historical figures. We have visiting from the Little League Museum, 'Griswold.' He is a bear that has seen many of the Little League baseball games."
On display will be bears from Williamsport, South Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Muncy, Winfield, New Jersey and even a world-traveling bear named "Trafalgar Square."
"Trafalgar," owned by Britain native Fiona Powell, WVIA-FM correspondent, has been with her for 57 years. During her first Christmas, her father was working in Tokyo, Japan. While there, her mother bought her her first teddy bear, who became her traveling companion throughout the years.
" 'Trafalgar' is a very elegant panda," Powell said. "I named him after one of the London sights written on a silk scarf that my mother gave me to use as a blanket for him. I knew Trafalgar Square well, and often visited there."
"Trafalgar" has visited and lived in Tokyo, Japan; Paris, Verdun and Orleans, France; Canterbury, Deal, Dover, Taunton, Folkestone, Bath, Axbridge and London, England; Lampeter and Carmarthen, Wales; Heidelberg and Worms, Germany; Washington, D.C., Virginia, Georgia, California, North Carolina and Pennsylvania in the United States and has traveled all over Europe and Canada.
Powell said she thinks "Trafalgar" might be one of the older bears on display but knows he will definitely be one of the most traveled.
" 'Trafalgar Square' is much honored to be on display with all of the bears of the area," she added.
Thomas T. Taber also will be contributing three bears to the exhibit. Two of his own, "Little Bear" and "Big Bear" from 1931 and 1932, and his father's bear from 1901.
The three bears from Taber all are more than 80 years old, possibly making them the oldest bears in the exhibit. Taber said he remembers his grandmother knitting a sweater for one of the bears sometime between 1936-37 to replace one that had been worn out.
Parks said he has received a few bears for the display that have been made out of old fur coats. Since fur coats have become not as fashionable as they have been in the past, the coats have been recycled and made into teddy bears.
The museum also will host a Teddy Bear Tea Party on Dec. 15. Fancy cookies, tea and scones will be served as party-goers mingle with others and their teddies. Deadline to register for the tea party is Dec. 10.
"It's basically for children to bring their favorite teddy bear and share tea with their teddy bear and to see what other kids' teddy bears look like," Parks said. "The young at heart are invited as well."
Throughout the exhibit the museum gift shop also will be focused on teddy bears and will have teddy bear-related items for sale.
Parks said he wants to get the community more involved with the museum and is hoping that the exhibit will be a way to accomplish that.
"We're very active and we want families involved and people who have things to share," Parks said. "I've done a number of small exhibits. I want to do even more of those and get the community room used year round."
Anyone interested in including their teddy bear in the exhibit should contact Parks at 326-3326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.