LAKE SARANAC – If you see a bear in town this month, there’s probably no cause for alarm. If the bear is wearing a green Play ADK t-shirt, pat down and take a selfie with him instead of calling the authorities.
“He’s a super friendly bear, so there’s no need to contact (the state department of environmental conservation) or anything like that,” Play ADK executive director Rob Carr said in a press release bearing the news. “He doesn’t eat garbage, but he does appreciate a good latte.”
Play ADK employees can be seen driving a large teddy bear named “Bear” around town to see the sights, riding their bikes or riding a shotgun in their car. Bear always wears a seat belt when being driven.
“A month of searching for Play ADK’s beloved Bear has begun,” Play ADK Playmaker Kaet O’Brien wrote. “He’s about 4ft tall and unlikely to answer to a name due to a rare bear hearing disease known as ‘stuffalitis’.”
O’Brien is in charge of the logistics for Bear’s tour of the city.
“I know we’re told not to approach bears, but I’ve met Bear and he’s a real lover – not very talkative, though,” village mayor Jimmy Williams said in a statement. “He loves to get out and explore downtown Saranac Lake.”
Carr said Bear offered to be part of this promotion to build excitement for the museum of play, get people interested, and bring them to the Play ADK Clubhouse at the corner of Main Street and Broadway.
Bear first became part of the Play ADK family about 6 months ago, Carr said, when he paddled into town with his wife and child for a canoe raffle the museum was hosting.
“If you see him, please post a selfie with him on social media and tag us @play.adk on Instagram and Play ADK on Facebook,” O’Brien said in a statement. “We know that sounds silly, but it’s the best way we can think of to keep track of him.”
Play ADK has set up a raffle prize to encourage people to participate in this tracking method, she said. The winner of the raffle for a basket containing gifts from local businesses will be announced at Northern Current, a free community music festival to be held in Riverside Park on September 4.
The bear can be seen anywhere in the Village of Saranac Lake Sunday through Friday. On Saturday he will hide in a different company in search of gain. Researchers can get a clue to help them pinpoint his whereabouts at the Clubhouse every Saturday, August 6 through September 3. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Carr said each photo from a different location counts as one entry into the raffle, so he said, “going out every day in search of Bear.”
Play ADK Museum in the first phase of works
Play ADK is a non-profit organization working to build the first children’s museum in the Adirondacks. Play ADK purchased its property – Branch and Callanan’s big red warehouse on Depot Street, in 2021.
Carr said Play ADK could open by 2025 at the earliest if it hits all of its fundraising goals. The project was estimated at more than $7 million at the bare minimum.
In June, the project entered the design phase after contracting with Phinney Design Group to produce a concept design for the project.
Carr described the future museum as a “high-touch and low-tech” place to play, build muscles, minds and community. There are plans for a STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – creative space for teens and a family resource center.
In 2018, Play ADK received $949,000 through New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative as part of a larger $10 million award for the Village of Saranac Lake. The project also secured $1 million from the state in 2019 through a Consolidated Funding Application Grant. He has received private grants from the Cloudsplitter Foundation and “hundreds of thousands of dollars in community donations.”
Carr said the project receives consistent donations.
The organization is planning a gala on August 25 with the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce in Ampersand Bay.