Patients at the Tufts University Floating Hospital for Childrenwill soon have a new face to greet them when they arrive: a12-foot, three-ton, three-dimensional bronze bear.
The bear was formerly housed at a now-bankrupt FAO Schwarz storeon Boyslton St. in Boston's Back Bay, where it has stood since1991.
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino decided that the children of Bostonshould 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 finda great new home for this beloved bear."
Youngsters cast their votes for the Floating Hospital forChildren at New England Medical Center in a poll conducted throughthe city's Web site.
The bear's relocation brought on a heated debate - anotheroption including auctioning off the bear to the highest bidder.Similar bears were auctioned on eBay in West Palm Beach, Fl. andSeattle, Wash. for more than $11,000 each.
The landlord for FAO Schwarz secured ownership of the bear sothat it could be donated to the children of the city.
Boston's invitation to kids to submit their ideas for the bear'snew home
garnered more than 7,000 responses from people in 31 states andfive countries on the city's Web site.
The contest began in July following the announcement that thestore would be going out of business.
The statue will be moved to the hospital's entrance onWashington St. near the South End and Chinatown neighborhoods, aswell as the Silver Line and other public transit lines.
"The accessible location on Washington St. will ensure thatchildren from the neighborhood and beyond can stop by to pay thebear a visit," Menino said in a press release.
The Mayor personally approved the decision. "We are so happythat our city's favorite teddy bear will have a loving new home atthe Floating," Menino said.
"And perhaps most importantly, the bear will bring smiles to thehundreds of children who pass the statue on their way in and wholook down on it from their hospital room windows," he said.
"The kids are so thrilled; they feel like they've won thelottery," according to Catherine Bromberg, spokeswoman for FloatingHospital. "The mayor's office called us, and there was absolutejubilation throughout the medical center," she said.
Freshman Susie Hammar thinks that a children's hospital is aperfect place to be the home of the bear. "It's nice to know thateven though the closing of the store probably hurt so many people,that it can bring happiness to the Children's Hospital," shesaid.
"The entire hospital community - patients and staff - arethrilled," Bromberg said.
The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts-New England MedicalCenter began in 1894 as a hospital on a ship, sailing around BostonHarbor to treat sick infants and children. It now serves as apediatric hospital and a research and teaching hospital for theTufts' Sackler School of Medicine.
"It's sad that such a great toy store had to close, but it'snice that the memory of that will stay with the children of thecity," sophomore Sarah Rapaport said.