Brenda and John Blackett have a bit of a problem.
Their home in Takapau is overrun with more than 1800 teddy bears. They’re everywhere, spilling out of one bedroom, and you can even find some stashed in the roof space. But this week, the bears will be calling Takapau Town Hall home.
The Central Hawke’s Bay couple were already collectors when they started giving teddy bears as gifts to visiting children after they transformed their home on Sydney St into a large-scale Christmas lighting display back in 2009.
Now known as the Christmas Lights House, hundreds of families from all over the region make a pilgrimage to the couple’s home every festive season to admire more than 30,000 decorative lights, visit Santa’s Cave where children can have their photo taken with the jolly man in his big red sleigh, as well as receive a free toy and a wrapped gift.
As the number of lights have grown substantially over the years, so too has the couple’s teddy bear collection. After starting out with around 400, they had more than 800 teddies by 2014 which prompted the couple to create their own display room within the Christmas Lights House.
The Blacketts stopped giving out the teddies and their collection of teddy bearrelated items has now ballooned to more than 1800. Which has caused something of a dilemma.
Space constraints mean a lot of the bears need to be stored in the roof cavity of the couple’s home and with their already heavy workload at Christmas, the Blacketts did away with the teddy bear display last year.
But they still need to buy and give out hundreds of wrapped presents at Christmas, so to raise money, the Blacketts are displaying their teddy bear collection every day this week till Saturday at Takapau town hall from 10am-3pm.
Entry is via a gold coin koha, and Brenda said the funds would be used to buy toys, wrapping paper and items for the Christmas Lights House like balloons and lollipops.
“We handed out 400 wrapped presents last year but it wasn’t enough. We ran out,” said Brenda. “We want to put out the teddy bears back into our Christmas display, so we are hoping that this show will provide us with the opportunity to rehouse our bears and buy some shelving for them so they can once again be enjoyed by everyone,” she said.
There would also be a table of teddy bears for sale. The couple have some NZmade teddies form the 1950s and 60s, and some donated hand-knitted teddies, but most were mass produced.
“We don’t have any Steiff bears. It’s more about quantity rather than quality,” said Brenda, referring to the maker of the world’s most expensive teddy bears, including a Louis Vuitton bear which sold for $2 million in 2000 and is now housed in a museum.
But with teddy bears the fourth most popular collectible item in the world, Brenda hoped the display would attract enough visitors to raise money for more presents.
“The present pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger each year,” she said.
The Teddy Bear Display is on at Takapau Town Hall from 10am until 3pm every day until Saturday September 15th. Entry is by donation.
Brenda Blackett at home in the Christmas Lights House with just some of the teddy bears that are on display at Takapau Town Hall this week.