04/11/14 — Un-bear-ably cute

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Un-bear-ably cute

By Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on April 11, 2014 1:46 PM

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Aaliyah Butler, 5, eats a picnic lunch with her blue bear during the event.

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Amarii Williams, 5, rests her head on her favorite teddy bear during the Teddy Bear Picnic Thursday afternoon in downtown Goldsboro.

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Jayla Drew, 4, and Savannah Holdcroft, 5, play with a pink bear during the Teddy Bear Picnic sponsored by the Wayne County Partnership for Children.

Although both Amarii, 5, and Ki'Mirah Williams, 3, were squeezing their teddy bears throughout the afternoon, the highlight of their experience at Thursday's Teddy Bear Picnic was the dancing bear mascot and the music.

When they were asked their favorite part about Thursday, they answered in unison.

"The bear," they said. "He was dancing."

The girls spent most of their time at the event jumping and dancing to "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear."

Their mother, Lowanda Shearod, watched on and controlled a larger group of children.

A nap, she said, was on the horizon.

Roughly 250 preschoolers and their chaperones gathered at Cornerstone Commons Thursday afternoon for the Partnership for Children of Wayne County's spring Teddy Bear Picnic.

The celebration brought preschoolers from child care centers located across the county to celebrate the importance of their special friends.

The adults, meanwhile, used the event as a way to promote the national "Week of the Young Child" -- a period of time that stresses the importance of the first 2,000 days of educational, physical and social development in a young child's life.

"Teddy bear friends are important to you and you're important to us," Charlie Ivey, executive director of the Partnership for Children of Wayne County, said during the event.

Sheila McInnis and her two friends, Brandi Forbey and Claire Daniels, came to the picnic with their children on the "spur of a moment" after hearing about the event Wednesday evening.

"It was fun for the kids to do," Mrs. McInnis said. "It's warm outside and it's good to get out of the house."

Their area was surrounded by little baggies of snacks and plenty of pink paraphernalia.

They had brought seven little girls -- 3 months to 5 years old -- with them -- Abby, Abbie, Libbie, Zoey, Chloe, Olivia and Katelyn.

Jennifer Olson's group was a little smaller.

She brought her 4-year-old daughter, Addie, and 7-month-old son, Luke, because she thought Addie would enjoy it.

The little girl was shy, but was enthusiastic about packing her new teddy bear full of cotton.

"I knew she would like it," Mrs. Olson said. "And I really like to support the free events we have in Goldsboro. I once heard a speaker say that communities are stronger when they see each other face to face. I think it's important to go to these events.

"We missed it last year and was really excited about it this year. It's a good thing."