Teddy Bear Tea – not just for kids

Annual Anchorage event supports Army programs.

by Jenni Ragland –

This year’s “Best of Show” bear display, created by Terri Pfister. [Photo courtesy of Jill Fankhauser/Alaska Star Newspaper]

Governor Sarah Palin, Hannah Montana, Rapunzel, Snow White—stuffed and dressed, that is—and a couple hundred of their teddy bear friends were auctioned off at The Salvation Army’s 9th Annual Teddy Bear Tea and Auction. Organized by The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, the event raises funds for Anchorage area programs. While final figures are still being tallied, early estimates indicate this was another successful event, raising more than $17,500.

Many of the participants, known as dressers, have taken part in the event since its beginning. Over the years, the competitive spirit has grown, with the creations becoming more elaborate and detailed. Created by Terri Pfister, this year’s “Best of Show” bear, selected prior to the event by a group of VIP judges, featured an exquisite recreation of the studio of Alaskan artist, Shane Lamb. The one-of-kind design included miniature copies of the artist’s work, working display lights, actual paintbrushes from his studio and even a copy of one of his prints reproduced on a small canvas and mounted on an easel created for this display. This was just one of five entries Pfister submitted this year!

Themes of local interest often emerge in the dressed bears. This year, one theme was bears depicting Alaska’s 50th anniversary of Statehood. Another last minute entry that drew special interest was a “Palin Bear,” dressed in a Palin campaign t-shirt and featuring an American flag pin and scarf from the Governor’s personal collection; it sold for $450. In all, more than 200 bears were dressed in categories that included babyland, favorite celebrities, heritage bears, fantasyland, career bears, designer originals, Victorian/formal bears, seasonal bears, sports and recreation and cubs corner.

According to Major Sheryl Tollerud, divisional director of women’s ministries, “The Bear Tea has become one of Anchorage’s must attend family events, and we are truly blessed to see the continued support for the ministry of The Salvation Army in the Last Frontier.”

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