I dare say that almost everyone had a Teddy Bear as an infant. Some bears survive and others are so badly worn they go to Teddy Bear heaven. But, there is a place you can go to relive that first animal connection.
Teddy Bears are everywhere. In fact there are over 15,000 bears of all sizes, shapes, themes and colors. Each has a special place in the House whether it is eating at the dining room table, taking a shower or watching a sports event in the Bear Man Cave and it is a sight to see. The bear numbers continue to grow with new ones arriving regularly. Welcome to The Teddy Bear House Museum in Picayune, MS.
It all began in 1976 when a friend of Ricky Lenart gave him a small bear. Why? Ricky was affectionately call “Ricky Bear” and “Ricky Pooh”, yet had no bears to go along with those names. Fast forward to New Orleans 2005 and over 8,000 bears later. Ricky decided to decorate for Christmas to bring cheer to the city after Katrina. The collection continued to grow and the bears needed a permanent home with more room.
Why Picayune, MS? The first Teddy Bear may have been in a candy shop window in Brooklyn, NY, but what brought it there? Teddy Roosevelt refused to kill an injured bear that was tied to a tree. A cartoon showing the President refusing to kill the bear was published. The candy store owner asked the President if he could call the stuffed bears “Teddy Bears”. Permission was given and as they say the rest is history. Back to the question of why Picayune, MS. The bear hunting trip was not out west somewhere, it was in the state of Mississippi at the invitation of the Governor. The party was hunting near Onward, approximately 200 miles northwest of Picayune.
When Lenart and Jeansonne, owners of The Teddy Bear House, were looking for another home for the bears, Mississippi seemed the perfect place. The bears were going back to where it all started.
Now the 15,000 and growing bear numbers live at The Teddy Bear House Museum on South Haugh Avenue in Picayune, MS. The museum is set up like a house with rooms such as dining room, kitchen, parlor, bear man cave, bathroom and more. Also there are special rooms – Teddy Roosevelt Theater, Teddy Bear Tea Room and Everything Bear Gift Shop. There is a large room with changing displays depending on the season. There are bears in every nook and cranny, on tight ropes and more.
No matter your age, this museum is worth a visit.