California Bear
Piper Willis poses with a large bear in the Veterans Community Plaza last month. The bear, created by Morgan Bricca for sponsor Rotary Club of Los Altos, is titled "Can you see yourself in California?" According to Bricca, the grizzly bear sports a garland of poppies and redwood sprigs, as well as apricot blossoms representing Los Altos. The Santa Cruz mountains featured on the grizzly’s chest provide "a breathtaking backdrop to our bustling town and an easy escape into the redwoods," she said. "Our community is blessed by the cultural diversity of our immigrants, represented by the different fabric patterns featured in the cape. ... I hope this bear serves as a reminder that it is the diversity within our community that makes us beautiful."

Los Altos has adopted Ursus americanus californiensis as its official town animal for the next few months. The theme for the paws project is “Celebrate Coming Out of Pandemic Hibernation.”

A total of 51 fiberglass bears were painted and decorated by local amateur and professional artists, art groups and students – working with the Rotary Club of Los Altos and the Los Altos Public Arts Commission – all putting their creativity into this worthwhile community project.

The bears will be on display around downtown throughout the summer and early fall, leading up to the Oct. 9 “Hibernation Is Over” auction and party. The Rotary Club and community arts groups will receive a portion of the proceeds from bear sales.

During a recent tracking expedition around town, I noticed a common sight at every bear. The leading bowsers among Los Altos dogs looked completely confused as to who these new four-footed interlopers were. The thought bubble above the dogs’ heads: “Should I bark, growl, yelp, sniff, nip or lift a leg?”

Many of the pampered pooches just shook their heads quizzically and attempted to continue walking with their owners in tow.

The dogs held tight to their leashes, because they weren’t finished talking to the four-leggers. If they were hearing a response from the bears, I didn’t hear it. Parents were trying to channel their best Grizzly Adams stories to their little ones.

I have a few unsolicited ideas for the Rotary Club and Public Arts Commission that might add some bite to the Los Altos Bears project.

• Talk to the Lions Club about a “King of the Jungle” statue project for next year. Why not check in with the Eagles of Los Altos High School to see what their interest might be?

• Host a “Grin and Bear It” comedy competition as part of the festivities.

• How about a bear photo/video contest for the best shots and videos of the human interaction with the synthetic wild things?

• Host a bear art competition for kids. Let their imaginations run wild with all the colors of the rainbow.

• At the Oct. 9 event, have a local band play every song they can that is bear-related.

I’m not sure when or if a black bear has been spotted in the hills above Los Altos. Hopefully, none of the fully furry four-footers of the 51 statuesque relatives will decide that a rescue effort is necessary.

And finally, bid high to put a bear in your home or business.

Andy Dolich operates Dolich & Associates, a sports consultancy, in Los Altos.