Waving bear is an icon


Rain, snow or shine, Happy DeuBear is always ready to greet people in Craig with a smile and a wave and a fancy new outfit.

The 9-foot carving of a bear on Taylor and Sixth street is sporting yellow sunglasses, a straw hat, and is holding a pinwheel to celebrate summer.

The "parents" of Happy DeuBear, longtime Craig residents Loyd and Elaine DeuPree, said the bear was inspired by their enjoyment of the carvings at City Park.

When they had to cut down a 90-foot pine tree in their front yard, it seemed perfect to turn it into a carving.

They contacted Ken Davis, a first-place winner in past Whittle the Wood competitions, and two years ago he brought Happy DeuBear to life.

"We didn't want a sad, growly bear," Elaine said. "We wanted him smiling and waving, and we definitely wanted him to have a flag."

It was Davis who gave Happy DeuBear his first accessory, an American flag.

Since then, he has been dressed up as everything from a girl to Elvis, and sometimes he changes outfits daily.

"This Memorial Day weekend we had the graduation sign up, a birthday, and then the flag on Monday," Elaine said.

For all the DeuPree's grandchildren's birthdays, Happy DeuBear holds up a sign with his or her name on it, and when it comes time to vote for the primaries this August, he will hold up a message reading "Don't forget to vote."

But he won't get caught taking political sides.

Elaine credits Loyd with coming up with most of the ideas, and Loyd said Elaine is the brains behind the creative attire, but they both agree that have a ton of fun doing it.

"If we are (at the) store and see something that is appropriate for him, we pick it up," Elaine said. "He has a lot of hats he wears."

She has kept a scrapbook of all his outfits, as well as letters and cards she has received from people in the community telling her how much they enjoy him.

She said that everywhere she goes, from the grocery store to downtown, people are always commenting on Happy DeuBear's most recent attire.

"It's so much fun when you do something people enjoy," she said.

Craig residents Ruby Wooden and Jean Bemis said they think Happy DeuBear is awfully cute and they love driving down Sixth Street just to see him.

"That's my buddy," Wooden said. "I always wave to him on my way to bingo. I think he brings me good luck."

Happy DeuBear's fashion consultants have extended from Elaine and Loyd to other people in the community.

The Sweet Adelines a cappella group dresses him up before each show, and Elaine's neighbor went all out on an Easter costume one year, complete with a flowered hat, bunny ears and bear-size Easter basket.

Whoever designs his attire, Happy DeuBear always has a great sense of humor.

One of Elaine's favorite outfits came after the Broncos had a terrible loss.

The next day, Happy DeuBear was seen trying to leave town with a suitcase and a white surrender flag.

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