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Some of New Bern’s famous bear statues are floating away in Florence flooding, city says

Teddie Davis goes to check on one of the town’s signature bears that was toppled by Hurricane Florence in downtown New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Another one of the bears ended up in the middle of the street in the background.
Teddie Davis goes to check on one of the town’s signature bears that was toppled by Hurricane Florence in downtown New Bern, N.C., on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. Another one of the bears ended up in the middle of the street in the background. AP

Some of New Bern’s famous bears are floating away the city says.

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One of New Bern’s decorated fiberglass bears in the middle of a downtown street after floating away in Hurricane Florence floodwaters. City of New Bern

The life-size fiberglass bears are “heavy and bolted down at sponsoring businesses,” the city said in a tweet on Friday.

“Some of our beloved bears have wandered away,” the city said, sharing a photo of one of the decorated statues, sporting a colonial era coat, breeches, buckled shoes and powdered wig.

“This one ended up in the middle of S. Front St.,” the city said.

The bear, standing on a thick pedestal, was surrounded by floodwater in the middle of the street, though water had yet to reach his shiny black shoes.

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Screengrab of a Google Maps image of South Front Street in New Bern before Hurricane Florence flooding.

The Craven County city on the Neuse and Trent rivers was once the capital of North Carolina when it was still a British colony.

There’s a legend that says a nobleman and founder of the city of Bern in Switzerland named the city for the word for “bear” so the city uses a bear as its symbol.

A look at New Bern, NC as the storm surge from Hurricane Florence pushes the Neuse and Trent Rivers into the streets of the town on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.

So New Bern, too, shares a name some believe means “bear,” the city and Tryon Palace say, and a bear is on the city’s flag. New Bern is sometimes referred to as “Bear Town.”

Cast-iron bear heads hang in the historic city hall and Central Fire Station.

The bears are hand-painted by local artists in celebration of the city’s 300th anniversary in 2010, according to the city.

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One of the decorated fiberglass bears in downtown New Bern. City of New Bern

“Adorned with hats, flags, flowers, and other unusual and creative features, each bear offers a unique design,” the city said on its website.

Maps are available at the chamber of commerce or convention and visitors center in the city to take visitors on a tour of all the bears.

“Children can participate by playing the game ‘Where on the Bear’ to find hidden features on each bear using clues listed on the map,” the city said on its website.

Units with New York City’s Urban Search and Rescue team were dispatched to River Bend, near New Bern, North Carolina, on Sept. 14, 2018, to help perform rescues following Hurricane Florence’s arrival to the area.

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