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Disco ball bears it all

Jeff Munson
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Max Mutz, 11, checks his reflection in the disco ball bear Friday during the CeleBEARtion auction at Harveys Resort Casino. The piece drew a bid of $23,000 with money going to local charities.
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The finale of the Bears by the Lake CeleBEARtion campaign came at Friday night’s soirée, complete with its own disco ball.

A disco ball in the shape of a bear.

This handsome, fancy barrage of mirrors was a “must have” for one of the dozens of bidders on tap to snatch up the 46 prized Fiberglass bears at the auction inside Harveys Convention Center.

The conclusion of the popular Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority bear campaign, designed to raise money for Tahoe youth, art and social service programs, came down to an exciting final bid that literally stunned and amazed auction attendees.

When the chips were on the table, auctioneer George Alm concluded “sold” among two vying for the funky discotheque bear created by South Shore artists Darcie Park Bissonnette and Mark Bissonnette.

The final amount: $23,000.

For the sake of the person who wrote the check for that $23,000, they wish to remain anonymous. Bidding by proxy for the disco bear was Peggy Thompson, executive director of the Tahoe Arts Project.

“I had no idea it would get this high,” said Thompson, charged with getting the disco bear for the person whom she described only as being a local. “It shocked the heck out of me.”

Another shocker to those who helped put on CeleBEARtion – including title sponsors Nevada Funding and All About Tahoe Realty – the auction netted $155,000 that will go to nonprofits at South Shore.

“The community should be proud of this. They engaged in this. They are the ones who made it successful,” said Patrick Kaler, executive director of the LTVA, who conceived the bear idea.

Friday’s gala painted a picture of the South Shore artist and business community coming together to showcase not only its pride but its strength, Kaler said.

From its humble beginning where naysayers attacked the original concept, to clear evidence of thousands of out-of-towners snapping photographs of the bears for their scrapbooks, cell phones and screensavers, CeleBEARtion succeeded in what it set out to do: Draw attention to Tahoe’s unique cohabitation with the environment, and to raise money for its local youth charities and artists.

“We started out with some people who didn’t think the bears fit with the Tahoe theme and feel. I think we got a lot of them, especially when you look at this, how many pictures were taken and how it raised this amount of money for this community.”

The bear theme was borrowed from the city of Chicago which employed its artists to paint Fiberglass cows. More than 300 cows were painted and through an auction more than $1 million was raised for Chicago charities.

“We are a small community of 25,000 people. To have 50 bears raise that kind of money speaks so much to our community,” Kaler said.


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