The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Polar bears invade Guilford Green before first snowstorm
GUILFORD — A “celebration” of polar bears gathered on the western side of the Green, Monday, Feb. 27, awaiting the first major snowstorm of the season.
As dawn broke and the green was blanketed with snow, visitors took to social media to share photos and rave about the wintry art installation.
The wooden polar bears were created by the same artist that installed 99 penguins on the green in January 2022 and monkeys hanging from trees in September 2022. He wishes to remain anonymous.
While in the wild, polar bears are solitary creatures, the current art installation shows 44 adult polar bears and cubs — some standing tall, while others look to be playfully rolling in the snow. There is even one with a penguin riding on its back.
They are all constructed of plywood overlaid with polyurethane paper and are water resistant. The largest one depicts an adult polar bear, along with two cubs, measuring 95-by-30 inches.
Business owners on the Green are enjoying the scene across the street.
Maggie Moffett, owner of Mix Design Store, appreciates the extra visitors coming to the center of town and added “but this is really about adding texture and fun to the fabric of our town in an unusual, unique, and unexpected way. It’s very special.”
Down the street at Flutterby, owner Beth O’Bymachow said she and her 5-year-old Cocker Spaniel, Hunter, enjoyed visiting the polar bears.
“I think that it’s awesome that we have a local artist who literally waits until we have a snowstorm to put his homemade art out just to refresh everybody and bring joy to the community,” she said.
Most polar bears live in north of the Arctic Circle and the largest male polar bear can grow to 1,700 pounds. They are the largest carnivorous mammals on earth, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
All of these polar bears will be auctioned off with proceeds to benefit Meals on Wheels.
Visit ananauction.com to place your bids. The bidding ends Saturday, March 11, and all polar bears must be picked Sunday, March 12 at 4 p.m. on the green.
Christi Burton, director of Meal on Wheels was “taken aback” when she received the call about being the recipient of the auction proceeds.
“I obviously knew all about the penguins and the barnyard animals but I didn’t know they he sold them and the proceeds of the sale went to various nonprofits,” she said. “We’re thrilled.”
“It has just brought such joy to Guilford and the Guilford Green and such excitement,” she said. “It’s so nice to be tied to it.”
The installation coincided with International Polar Bear Day, celebrated on Feb. 27 to “focus on the need to protect denning families across the Arctic,” according to polarbearsinternational.org. While Polar Bears do not den, the pregnant females do, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
At the time of his penguin installation the artist’s daughter, Jessica Swartz, described how the two and a half feet tall penguins were made.
Swartz explained that the penguin pattern is printed with a mural printer. The pattern is then put through a “computer saw” which cuts the wood into the exact shape.
The paper penguin is then varnished onto the wood. The wooden birds are held in place with stakes.