A FAMILY of three animatronic polar bears were unveiled in Stratford’s Victorian Christmas Market.
And the new additions were named by three local children. The bears – a baby bear, granny bear and grandpa bear – were christened ‘Nell’, ‘Honey Tot’ and ‘Grouchy Grandpa’ by Millie Smith, Ted Lowe, and Millie Lowe, respectively after winning a competition to come up with their names.
Stratford mayor Kevin Taylor unveiled the bears outside the old Debenhams building on Bridge Street at the market just after he officially opened the event.
CounTaylor also gave the children three cuddly toy polar bears as a prize for winning the competition, provided by LSD Promotions.
The funding for Stratford Town Council to purchase the three bears was provided through the government’s Welcome Back Fund.
The programme is managed by Shakespeare’s England on behalf of Stratford District Council, and awards money to projects that bring people back into town centres.
Coun Taylor felt the polar bears added something a little bit extra to the traditional market and helped attract visitors to the town centre.
He said: “These three polar bears are a fantastic new attraction to our Victorian Market, and it was amazing to see the kids’ faces light up when they saw them for the first time.
“We love the names the three children chose, and the bears will be a wonderful addition to our subsequent markets.
“It was great to see so many people out enjoying the market after the pandemic forced us to cancel last year. We hope all our visitors enjoyed saying hello to the polar bears and experiencing the market once again.”
The Welcome Back Fund money was also used by the town council to purchase a full-sized sleigh to go with the council’s previously-acquired animatronic reindeer.
Glyn Slade, Welcome Back Event Manager from Shakespeare’s England, added: “The polar bears took pride of place at the market this year, and having a competition with local schoolchildren to name them was a great way of getting people engaged.
“They’re a lovely addition to the market and we hope they will make plenty of reappearances in the years to come.”
Click here to see a video of the bears.