Welcome the Bears to Sumter County

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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By Tracy K. Hall – ATR

It is not a secret Sumter County is a great place to be! We have so many awesome places to explore and people to meet. For this moment though, it’s tough for us humans to get out and be with each other. But there is one group that isn’t bothered with pesky viruses, so we invited them to come visit. The invitation was sent out a week or so ago and bears of all shapes and sizes decided Sumter County was a place they wanted to see! We don’t know exactly when they arrived, but we know they did because we have spotted them all around town. Some went to our local businesses to learn about their work, others went to stay with some of our residents. Many of them like to hang out in the windows and watch us. Others can be found sitting on our front porches or even in the yard!  I asked some of them what they like to do.

Earl hangs out at my house on Lee Street. He likes to be outside, so he is an easy one to spot. Earl is a mailman in the forest where he lives. My mailman, Mike, has given him a letter to take back home, so much like Mike, you can find him wearing a big smile and holding a note to deliver. Earl says at night when everybody has gone to sleep, sometimes he will meet up with his other friends that are hanging around Lee Street. Evidently, Lee Street is a popular location for some of the bears, but Earl says he has a lot of friends around town. Some are on Daniels Street, Harrold Avenue, South Forty, Riverwood Commons, Lake Collins, Sharon Drive, Willett Way, Shirley Road, Wildwood Circle and even some out in country in Salem Woods. Earl says more are bound to pop up as word gets out about how great Sumter County is.

Earl reports some of his friends prefer to go to work to see if they can help out. He told me about two bears who love making trophies at Southwest Trophy and Gifts. Blueberry enjoys watching humans driving and walking through the parking lot and getting to smell the candles in the shop. His friend, Oscar, was destined to be in a trophy shop being he is named after a trophy figure that represents achievement. Oscar loves looking at all the gifts as well as seeing all the folks driving around to look at him. Oscar thinks the kids who do the best social distancing are the ones who really deserve a trophy.

If you want to go on a really big bear hunt, head out towards PharmaCentra. The Human Resources department has hired a new employee, and he is aptly named PharmaBeara. Most of his department is working from home, but he watches for packages from FedEx and UPS. He also reminds the employees still working in the office to wash their hands, cover their cough and to stay home if they are sick. He hasn’t had to take any patient calls yet, but he is ready if the opportunity presents itself. Like the other PharmaCentra employees, he is a team player! When it’s lunch time he always orders the same thing, Plains peanuts! He says they are his favorite, but he sure does enjoy the fresh honey from Jimmy Carter’s Boyhood Farm too!

Earl tells me sometimes bears like to stick together. I saw how true that was when I went to Clinic Drug Store to pick up some medicine at their drive thru. The Clinic Bears have a big window to play in and they promptly built a fort.  When they are not busy building forts, they raid the snack shelves. Potato chips and candy bars are good, but Skittles are their absolute favorite! According to Faith Pinnell, the Clinic Bears must be partying after the store is locked up at night because sometimes things are out of place when the pharmacists get to the drugstore the next morning!


Walker Crutchfield is a big fella who is working on his upper body strength at Accelerated Physical Therapy. He’s getting pretty strong as he hangs out on their sign. He spends his days watching and smiling at all the patients as they enter and leave the clinic. He also is a bit of a socialite, always smiling at everyone who drives down Lamar Street. Although he is tough and can stand a little rain, he does prefer the sunny days.  I asked Walker what his favorite part of the day is, he quickly tells me, “I love seeing patients come in on walkers or crutches and leave walking without any assistance!” Walker loves knowing muscles are getting stronger.

Be sure to look for the bears in other areas as well as businesses. I was only able to tell you about a few, but there are plenty to meet and Earl tells me his friends back home may make a visit since they have heard such great things about Sumter County. Being we are always interested in who is visiting Sumter County, I called our lady in the know, Nicole Kirksey, Director of Tourism. Nicole is very familiar with the bears and is glad they have come to our little home. “Of course, the bears are welcome to stay in Georgia’s Sumter County!” replied Nicole. “We want everyone to welcome these bears with open arms! These bears will likely remain in our community over the coming weeks and we hope they crawl away with a deeper understanding of our homegrown hospitality and world renown amenities!”