Mount Prospect Teddy Bear Walk Saturday to honor creator Dolores Haugh
Mount Prospect Public Library's iconic Teddy Bear Walk returns Saturday, Dec. 7, which continues a tradition of drawing young children and their favorite stuffed animal to the library, going back nearly four decades.
Its founding is nearly as sentimental as the event itself.
Dolores Haugh, who helped create many of the village's early traditions as head of the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce, information officer for the village and avid volunteer for the Mount Prospect Historical Society, created the first Christmas Walk in 1980.
Haugh died last year at age 95. Consequently, this will be the first Teddy Bear Walk since her passing.
"Dolores Haugh's family donated a Paddington Bear in her memory, which will be displayed at the library," said Mary Smith, head of Youth Services. "We will take a moment at the beginning of the Teddy Bear Walk to show the children the bear and recognize Dolores as the founder of the walk."
In an oral history recorded in 1991 by the Mount Prospect Historical Society, Haugh related that when she became involved with the chamber, there were no official events in the village over the holidays. She introduced the Christmas Walk to entice families downtown.
"The first year was a Christmas Walk that we had, and actually I copied that from Geneva because I was so impressed," Haugh said. "All the merchants opened their stores and served refreshments, and then, of course, Santa came for the children."
In 1983, when Haugh became public information officer for the village, she convinced library officials to participate, since they had a large meeting space for the walk to begin. She also converted the Christmas Walk into the Teddy Bear Walk, reflecting her love of teddy bears and her own personal collection.
Library officials and Friends of the Library have held the walk ever since, enhancing it with live entertainers. For the past several years, story-performer Chris Fascione acts out some beloved classics for youngsters, before folk singer Mark Dvorak brings favorite tunes to life.
"At first, children mostly brought their stuffed teddy bears to the performance, but now they bring stuffed dinosaurs, Batman, bunnies and more," Smith said. "Some families have even used their photo with Santa as their Christmas card picture."
With the crowd energized by the entertainment, they then set out to walk to the nearby Mount Prospect Village Hall, where they watch as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive escorted by the Mount Prospect Fire Department.
The event dovetails into the village's holiday open house, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Friendship Park Conservatory, 395 W. Algonquin Road in Des Plaines.
There, families can sample cider and cookies, while waiting to visit with Santa himself, all set amid the beautiful background of the conservatory, where the village grows all of its poinsettias. In fact, poinsettias will be available for purchase.
"The Teddy Bear Walk has become a favorite Mount Prospect Library tradition," Smith said. "Parents remember it from childhood and now bring their own children."
Howard Kleinstein, communications director for the village, agrees, describing the annual walk as a "time-honored, Mount Prospect tradition."
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Teddy Bear Walk
What: 39th annual Teddy Bear Walk
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 7
Where: Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St.