Bears ev­ery­where

CHB Mail - - Front Page - BY CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN

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.

PHOTO: CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN.

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.

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