The Boyertown Area Times
Earth Day Events
Bear Fever includes 81 bears, four in progress, another debuts April 28
A new bear was installed in time for Good Friday and Easter services at the Boyertown Salvation Army, 409 S. Reading Ave.
Customized by Chaplain Mark Malizzi, Prayer Bear has been modified from the original standing bear form, fabricated by Cowpainters, LLC, of Chicago.
“Capt. Joe and Capt. Rebecca Smith have always wanted to have a Bear at Salvation Army, so, being on the Advisory Team, I found out that they wanted this and it seemed like a great way to connect the Army to Boyertown,” said Malizzi, chairman of the organization’s Community Advisory Board.
The bear is depicted holding a Bible, and its head tilts down as if in prayer.
Malizzi said Prayer Bear is intended to provide faith, hope and love for people driving down Route 562.
“Their heart is to share that compassion with the community,” Malizzi said on behalf of the Salvation Army team. “The Bear is just another representation of sharing that love.
What he likes about this project was the ability to customize this bear in a way that his head is tilted down in prayer holding a Bible. He said it “just leads my heart to the Bible and how we need to love and care about our neighbors.”
The Prayer Bear is part of Boyertown’s Bear Fever, a collaborative public art project that was inspired by a desire to celebrate and beautify the community.
“I love that Mark Malizzi used his skills in working with fiberglass to create the bear in the posture he wanted. It would have been so expensive from the fabricators, and, actually, they haven’t been doing custom work since the pandemic,” said Jane Stahl, program founder.
In her digital newspaper The Boyertown Expression, Jane Stahl wrote that Malizzi’s knowledge and skill acquired from working with fiberglass in repairing vehicles at Ford Beans Ford of Boyertown allowed him the ability to make the modifications necessary to meet his vision for the project.
Jeff Graber of Gaber Letterin’ painted, added a clear coat, and installed the bear at the Boyertown Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army welcomes all people of all faiths to their assorted services,” Malizzi told Stahl. “In the bear’s posture of prayer, he symbolizes the heart, the love for the community that the Salvation Army brings to any member of the community who — at one time or another — may need help to recover from unfortunate circumstances.”
The program’s mission is to create greater community cohesiveness across generations, professions, and interests by bringing many members of the community together to have fun and work hard, according to the program’s website, www.bearfever.org/.
“I want the program to provide some fun for members of the community as they hunt for bears as a family or as a group project,” Stahl said. “I want them to learn more about each of the artists and the sponsors of the bears.”