Teddy Bear House Museum celebrates 1-year anniversary

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2016

BEARY CHRISTMAS: Ricky Lenart reveals the beginning stages of the Christmas displays in the Teddy Bear House Museum.

BEARY CHRISTMAS: Ricky Lenart reveals the beginning stages of the Christmas displays in the Teddy Bear House Museum.

The Teddy Bear House Museum celebrated its first anniversary in Picayune Wednesday afternoon with bear enthusiasts across the Gulf Coast.
For some employees, it seems like it was decades ago when they held their ribbon cutting ceremony, but for Ricky Lenart, it’s different.
“This year has flashed before my eyes,” Lenart, owner and collector of antique teddy bear memorabilia said. “It’s been such a joy having this collection available for the public and I hope we are able to keep going for many more years.”
This day also marks Lenart’s 40th year collecting teddy bears.
In the first few months of opening the museum, Lenart said lots of people from the community took tours, but as the year stretched, he began to see more people from out of town.
“It’s a bunch of fun seeing the community having fun at the museum. That is why we opened it. And on top of that, seeing all these visitors from out of town is exciting,” Lenart said.
Right now the museum displays thousands of bears decorated for Christmas. The first major theme The Teddy Bear House Museum employed was a Christmas extravaganza. Throughout the museum, there’s a teddy bear wearing a Santa hat, reindeer antlers, jingle bells or holding mistletoe. What brings the most joy to Lenart during this time of year is that all the animated bears on display are functioning.
Before The Teddy Bear House Museum found its home in Picayune, it was stationed in the original Teddy Bear House in New Orleans, La. The three-story colonial home matched the nostalgia of the bears that inhabited it, but eventually Lenart ran into problems.
“The house was great, but it was very limiting to who could enjoy the museum. With it being three floors, people who were handicapped or elderly could not experience the whole collection and that really was something that I wanted to change,” Lenart said.
Eventually, Lenart moved to Picayune and opened the museum on Nov. 16, 2015 where there is more space to display his 17,000 bear collection and is handicap accessible.
Over the past year, Lenart enjoyed seeing the excited visitors come to the museum and hopes people continue to attend. Every Thursday, The Teddy Bear House Museum invites local families to tour for half price. Only one person in the family or group must be from the county to receive the discount, Lenart said.
“We try and change up the museum and hold large events at least twice a month so when people come for the second or third time, it will be a different experience than the first visit,” Lenart said.
The Teddy Bear House Museum will be hosting its Christmas Extravaganza this year on Friday, Nov. 25.

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