Some of New Bern’s famous bear statues are floating away in Florence flooding, city says

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Some of New Bern’s famous bears are floating away the city says.

The life-size fiberglass bears are “heavy and bolted down at sponsoring businesses,” the city said in a tweet on Friday.

“Some of our beloved bears have wandered away,” the city said, sharing a photo of one of the decorated statues, sporting a colonial era coat, breeches, buckled shoes and powdered wig.

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Photo of a decorated bear statue in New Bern that the town said floated in Hurricane Florence floodwaters into the middle of a street.

City of New Bern

“This one ended up in the middle of S. Front St.,” the city said.

The bear, standing on a thick pedestal, was surrounded by floodwater in the middle of the street, though water had yet to reach his shiny black shoes.

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Screengrab of a Google Maps image of South Front Street in New Bern before Hurricane Florence flooding.

The Craven County city on the Neuse and Trent rivers was once the capital of North Carolina when it was still a British colony.

There’s a legend that says a nobleman and founder of the city of Bern in Switzerland named the city for the word for “bear” so the city uses a bear as its symbol.

So New Bern, too, shares a name some believe means “bear,” the city and Tryon Palace say, and a bear is on the city’s flag. New Bern is sometimes referred to as “Bear Town.”

Cast-iron bear heads hang in the historic city hall and Central Fire Station.

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The bears are hand-painted by local artists in celebration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2010, according to the city.


One of the decorated fiberglass bears in downtown New Bern.

City of New Bern

“Adorned with hats, flags, flowers, and other unusual and creative features, each bear offers a unique design,” the city said on its website.

Maps are available at the chamber of commerce or convention and visitors center in the city to take visitors on a tour of all the bears.

“Children can participate by playing the game ‘Where on the Bear’ to find hidden features on each bear using clues listed on the map,” the city said on its website.

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Screengrab of tweet from the City of New Bern.

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People survey the damage caused by Hurricane Florence on Front Street in downtown New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Chris Seward AP