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Behind The Fluff: The Tawdry Tales Of Festival Of Trees’ Teddy Bear Teas

Entertainment is a tricky thing. One person’s wholesome fare is another person’s demon-possessed trash.

From time to time, I’ll get emails from irate people who are disappointed that I’ve recommended some bit of entertainment they find to be offensive. One of them messaged me about it. Another called me, taking me to task for “leading children down the path of evil.” How she knew I’d been a tour guide at Disneyland is beyond me. But nonetheless, this lady wasn’t pleased. “You shouldn’t be telling parents to let their children go to demonic concerts…you should be warning them about harmful entertainment!” she said.

Behind The Fluff: The Tawdry Tales Of Festival Of Trees' Teddy Bear TeasYou know, she’s got a point. So, aside from warning you not to buy Nickelback’s upcoming album, I’m going to do my best to educate you about a dangerous event that’s going on in the Quad-Cities this week.

That’s right, it’s the Festival of Trees.

Specifically, the Festival of Trees’ Teddy Bear Teas, which trundles into the Davenport RiverCenter on Sunday.

No, I’m not kidding.

The Festival of Trees people describe it as a “delightful event” featuring “adorable teddy bears” and “fun for the whole family.” What they don’t tell you is that it’s the plushie equivalent of a gangsta rap video crossed with a trip to Marilyn Manson’s house.

Being the courageous, intrepid journalist that I am, I’ve delved into the shady world of Teddy Bear Teas. What I found chilled me too deeply for even the strongest Lemon Lift to warm me up again.

Once the parents leave the room, all bets are off. The bears are in charge, and the kids, derogatorily referred to as “Christopher Robins,” don’t stand a chance.

The first thing the bears do is spike up the tea. Two lumps of sugar? Think FOUR, my friend, think four.

Then there’s the gambling. Candyland. Uno. Go Fish. And it ain’t just for small stakes either. There are kids who are still having flashbacks about the year Huggy McFluffstein lost three buttons and most of his stitches to Snuggle Diddy. These aren’t your average bears. Ruggles The Third? Elwood VonPouch? Cuddles? There isn’t a Ken, Barbie or GI Joe around that doesn’t hide behind the Speak And Spell at the mere mention of their names.

Behind The Fluff: The Tawdry Tales Of Festival Of Trees' Teddy Bear Teas

Emperor Cuddlesworth, during a relapse into his opioid addiction, mauled several parade walkers as an innocent child watched in horror. Even the Grinch turned away, chilled.

Heck, the horribly stitched face of Dr. Patches inspired the Slipknot masks.

You just don’t mess with Mr. Pibb. Mr. Flufflesworth is straight gangsta. And when it comes to street cred, The Top Monsieur lives up to his name — the bear’s bananas, yo.

Perhaps most disturbing is a quilt-style bear made up of swatches from various stuffed animals. Calling himself “Buffalo Baloo,” he preys on unsuspecting smaller dolls, trolling the crowd with his troll doll, Precious, and murmuring to himself, “It puts the fabric softener on its fur or it gets the hose.”

One eight-year-old, who asked not to be identified, described what happened to one boy who dared to utter the two forbidden words: washer and dryer.

“The bears gathered together, shoved him into a corner and pelted him with candy canes. A few of them howled and pointed out well-worn spots on their hides. They all started chanting `Mogwai! Mogwai! Mogwai!’ and then…”

Her voice trailed off into sobs.

“I haven’t been able to set foot in a toy store since.”

So, folks, you wanted me to be the voice of warning. You wanted me to dispense my cautionary tales. Here they are. Beware of the bears.

Next week: I take a hard look at the ink dabbing addictions suffered at local bingo parlors.

Behind The Fluff: The Tawdry Tales Of Festival Of Trees' Teddy Bear Teas

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Sean Leary Director of Digital Media

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.

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