EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 12, 2012

Travels with Percy

Library mascot is a well-traveled bear

By Alex Lippa

---- — PLAISTOW — The most well-traveled bear in all of Plaistow continued his journeys around the world this past year and he has a full slate ahead for 2013.

Percy the Library Bear traveled everywhere from London to Africa. He did some day trips, too, including a visit to a local dentist’s office.

The stuffed bear is the official mascot of Plaistow Public Library. For more than a year, children have been able to sign Percy out from the library and take him along on vacation.

“The kids have loved it,” library director Diane Arrato Gavrish said. “It’s great to see what they have done.”

Gavrish has a calendar with the schedules of all of Percy’s trips. It is filling up so quickly, another bear will soon get to travel as well. Percy’s “father” is going to travel next year. A contest to name him will begin after the holidays. The bear looks like Percy, only larger.

This summer, Percy went to Maine with the Theburge family. They said they didn’t let him out of their sight.

“We strapped Percy to front straps on the kayak. We tucked him into the bike cables and went trail biking,” mom Melissa Theburge said. “We did everything except swim with him.”

Percy wasn’t allowed to swim, but the Theburge children — Emma, 14, Claire, 11, and Nora, 8 — made a snorkel out of heavy-duty tape so he could watch them while they swam.

But Percy did take a couple of spills along the way. Several times, the bear fell off their bikes from his seat tucked between the hand brakes.

“We should have made him a helmet, too,” Theburge said.

When it’s freezing in Plaistow next month, Percy will be tanning on the beach with the Farnell family in Grand Cayman. It will be the Farnells’ first vacation with Percy, but they have taken him around Plaistow.

“We went to the dentist’s office one day,” Valerie Farnell said.

“They gave him his own little toothbrush and gave him his own cleaning.”

During the holidays, the library staff members will each get their own moment with Percy. He is expected to travel all around New England.

“We will have him either in the tree or under the tree,” Gavrish said. “He will be celebrating with us.”

She encourages anyone who takes Percy on vacation to take pictures of his adventures.

Photos of Percy’s trips are posted on the library’s Facebook page.