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FAO Schwarz Bear moves to Tufts Floating Hospital for Children

Children favored Tufts Medical School in city-wide poll

Published: Friday, October 15, 2004

Updated: Sunday, August 17, 2008 15:08

Patients at the Tufts University Floating Hospital for Children will soon have a new face to greet them when they arrive: a 12-foot, three-ton, three-dimensional bronze bear.

The bear was formerly housed at a now-bankrupt FAO Schwarz store on Boyslton St. in Boston's Back Bay, where it has stood since 1991.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino decided that the children of Boston should choose its new location.

"The FAO Schwarz bear is a destination - a landmark for kids," Menino said. "So I am asking the children of Boston to help me find a great new home for this beloved bear."

Youngsters cast their votes for the Floating Hospital for Children at New England Medical Center in a poll conducted through the city's Web site.

The bear's relocation brought on a heated debate - another option including auctioning off the bear to the highest bidder. Similar bears were auctioned on eBay in West Palm Beach, Fl. and Seattle, Wash. for more than $11,000 each.

The landlord for FAO Schwarz secured ownership of the bear so that it could be donated to the children of the city.

Boston's invitation to kids to submit their ideas for the bear's new home

garnered more than 7,000 responses from people in 31 states and five countries on the city's Web site.

The contest began in July following the announcement that the store would be going out of business.

The statue will be moved to the hospital's entrance on Washington St. near the South End and Chinatown neighborhoods, as well as the Silver Line and other public transit lines.

"The accessible location on Washington St. will ensure that children from the neighborhood and beyond can stop by to pay the bear a visit," Menino said in a press release.

The Mayor personally approved the decision. "We are so happy that our city's favorite teddy bear will have a loving new home at the Floating," Menino said.

"And perhaps most importantly, the bear will bring smiles to the hundreds of children who pass the statue on their way in and who look down on it from their hospital room windows," he said.

"The kids are so thrilled; they feel like they've won the lottery," according to Catherine Bromberg, spokeswoman for Floating Hospital. "The mayor's office called us, and there was absolute jubilation throughout the medical center," she said.

Freshman Susie Hammar thinks that a children's hospital is a perfect place to be the home of the bear. "It's nice to know that even though the closing of the store probably hurt so many people, that it can bring happiness to the Children's Hospital," she said.

"The entire hospital community - patients and staff - are thrilled," Bromberg said.

The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts-New England Medical Center began in 1894 as a hospital on a ship, sailing around Boston Harbor to treat sick infants and children. It now serves as a pediatric hospital and a research and teaching hospital for the Tufts' Sackler School of Medicine.

"It's sad that such a great toy store had to close, but it's nice that the memory of that will stay with the children of the city," sophomore Sarah Rapaport said.

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