The Life & Times of 20 Something Dana Myttis Hedrew (My Two Summers as a Berenstain Bear)…

Dana & Sara ❤ 1995

What up Diary, Dana here:

As you can see in the picture above, I think I am in love. I met Sara prior to this Summer Job last year when I was making my zine “Toxic Shock & Other Abnormalities of the Inner Being”. She became a co-editor/contributor, of course there is a huge age difference. I’m 25 right now and she is only 18 and headed off for college soon. But we’ve gone out a couple times and even did Karaoke night here at the park singing Yellow Submarine together.

I can only hope we can make this work 🙂 She works in the gift shop, I am performing as Mama Berenstain Bear. Yeah, Mama. We perform according to height, my coworker Bob is like 6 foot so he is always Papa. I don’t mind, this is my second year as a bear and I have the characterizations down pat.

Let’s go back a year to 1994. It wasn’t as eventful as 1995 but some interesting things did happen.

Left to Right/Top to Bottom: Shannon & Me being cool, Lisa Sleeping, Me, Shannon, Lisa, Yamille, Janet & Alice as Papa, Shannon with an Eyore, Shannon & Me as Mama, Janet, Shannon & Me Backstage, Me wearing Mama’s dress and Papa’s Head, Janet, Yamille, Shannon, Lisa & Me, Me as Papa, Shannon as Mama, Yamille as Brother & Lisa as Sister, Janet at a party, Me being perverse with a bear head, Me kissing Shannon as Mama.

As you can see from the photo’s above we were quite the bunch. Prior to the Berenstain Bears the park had Care Bears. Performed by 1 gay guy and 3 girls. In Our case, it’s one bi guy and 5 girls. Well Bi in theory I guess, I like both Men & Women but I’ve only ever dated women. Besides it was easier to stay backstage as one of the “girls” when they all sat around in their sports bra’s. I was a gentleman and left if someone needed to completely change though. Nearby in the food department was a guy named Joel that had a crush on Shannon, he came back stage once and Shannon mooned the both of us. Ha! This was the only time I saw any nudity.

I think I like all the girls I work with, well except Alice, she’s kind of weird. She best friends with my Buddy Rob. Anyways, Alice didn’t last very long with us. Maintenance set bug traps backstage and one morning Alice freaked out because a cricket was stuck in the glue traps. A cricket ! I get it you are an animal lover, but that’s the reason you quit. I tell you weird, just weird.

I think Shannon is the girl I am closest to. I mean Janet & Yamille talk to me, Lisa kind of keeps to herself. We went to a couple work drinking parties too, at one Shannon broke up with a boyfriend 😦 That’s the photo above of her with Eyore.

Aside from being bored to tears with the same Raffi Cd’s and also being in the heart of Tot Spot, ya know all the little kids rides, there were two moments of the job that really stick out for me. One time when i was Papa and Shannon was my bear handler (Handler’s were us in a regular work outfit to make sure no one did anything rude or violent to the performers) this little girl walked up to me and pointed and said “Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!” It was cute and funny.

The other time we were all chilling backstage and still wearing the costumes but the bear heads rest on pegs. A little boy snuck backstage looked at us all confused, then looked at the heads and started screaming “the bears are dead”, till his Mom found him, started laughing and apologized.

That was 1994.

1995 is something entirely different. First they moved us out of Tot Spot, Thank God and built this really cool interactive area called Berenstain Bear Country.

Left To Right/Top to Bottom: Me Holding Shawna as His Sister, Me hanging out with Bear Set #2 (They Made a Porn Video in Costume, Ha!) April, Me, Adam, Andy & Tom. Me on a day off with Melissa as Mama, Me, Shawna as Sister, Bob as Papa & Susan as Brother. Me carrying Shawna as Sister. Glenda & Me Backstage, Me Playing Footsie with Shawna as Sister, Shawna in a bathing suit BackStage, Jocelyn as a Handler, Glenda as Sister reading backstage, Adam looking creepy as Sister, Adam & I clowning around, Hanging out with Jocelyn on a day off & Shawna & I backstage.

Ok, I know I stated in the beginning of this entry that Sara and I are kind of dating. But 1995 unlike 1994 (The Bi guy went back in the closet) I was flirting and trying to date almost every girl I worked with. The Summer of the Horn Dog !!!

I flirted with Shawna, Glenda, Shannon & Melissa, & Supervisor Marie but they all had boyfriends 😦

I unsuccessfully dated Susan, Jocelyn & April (It seems April was a lesbian but she and I became quite close). There was one time when we both had off and she came over to my parents house to visit. We were drinking slurpee’s on the porch laughing into the wee night, someone actually called the cops on us. Cop asked what we were drinking and then said to just try to keep the noise down.

April & I also did Cocaine by Eric Clapton for Karaoke, And Adam, Shawna & I did a Pretend drunk rendition of some random country song. They also had a Lipsync contest and I got Adam, Shannon, Shawna & April to help me perform the song World War by The Cure and I did humorous performance to Aretha Franklin’s You make me feel like a natural woman ending with putting on a tee shirt of a girl in a bikini’s body. The Lypsync Winners though were Team Leader Matt’s performance in drag as Nun’s for En Vogues Never Gonna Get it with April, Melissa & Glenda.

Lot’s of Highlights of this Summer for sure 🙂

Although, I didn’t go to any parties this Summer. Spent more time doing employee events after closing time.

I really got along with the people I worked with, Shawna, Susan & Bob. Although Bob (An older guy in his 40’s missing his front teeth) tended to whine a lot about things, including filling the water cooler for everyone. Needless to say I usually did this instead of him, ridiculous. But Bob & I made a good team as Papa & Mama Bear. We could really play off each other, when Bob had off and I had to play off Shannon, it was fine but Tom or Melissa…eh.

I had a kid try to arm wrestle Mama till I told him knock it off (we weren’t supposed to speak and I did this on the occasion by saying something stupid like “Chicken Bear” and then the kid would tell his parent the bear spoke, of course than I never spoke. Ha. I was such an asshole.)

One other time some drunk guy wanted his picture taken with the bears and he pinched my (Mama’s) ass, till I spoke and said Dude, I’m a guy. He apologized profusely.

This other time Susan was in the gift shop as brother and a bunch of Frat Boys started rough housing with her. So, dressed as Mama, I made my way towards her to save her, flinging frat boys out of the way. We eventually made it backstage. Security came back to see if we were alright, he laughed seeing the opposite sex playing the opposite sex bear than said “No wonder Mama bear could handle herself so well.”

Every once in awhile teenagers would walk up and punch the bears in the head usually from behind. Also it was really hot in those costumes, they had to get laundered every night. We had no cooling system in place, if it was 90-100 degrees we did 15 min shows every hour but still got paid for the 8 hour shift.

Bear Set #2 Had two controversial moments to their name, They consisted primarily of Tom, Andy, Adam & April. Adam once shot a porno with Melissa in for Andy as Mama, April as Brother, Tom as Papa & Adam as Sister. It’s pretty damn hilarious and Adam gave me a copy of the video.

The other time was a covered slide. April as Brother decided to go down the slide but the bear head got stuck and she slid down with her shirt covering her human head. Brother Bear getting decapitated on a slide must have been traumatizing. Ha.

I really enjoyed the last two Summers as a Bear. This October I’ll be going to AIPH to study animation. Even hanging with co-workers to see The Lion King, Forrest Gump and uh that horrendous mess of a film Mortal Combat. Ha.

Till Again,


Published by mattsnyder1970

Matt Snyder has been making a dent in the creative community in North Eastern Pennsylvania since 1988. He’s been involved in showcasing his art in Exhibits in area Galleries & Spaces as well as online. Mr. Snyder is a real renaissance man. He doesn’t just dabble in the fine arts but has been known to grace the following kinds of things with his presence: Live Sound Mixing, Radio Production, Television Production, Short Films(Acting/Editing/Writing/Directing), Animations, Costume Character Performance, Dance, Music, Djembe Drumming, Theater (Writing/Acting/Directing/Props Management/Stage Management), Self Published Comics & Zines, Written & Slammed Performance Poetry, Sculpting Animal Figurines, Designing Tee Shirts, Photography Film & Digital, Painting (Acrylics), Drawing (Pen & Ink, Pastel, Colored Pencil, Sharpies, Crayons), Mixed Media, Collage, Paper Art, The Brooklyn Art Library & The Sketchbook Project, Blue Turtle ComiX, Just an Average Day Comic, Toxic Shock & Other Abnormalities of the Inner Being Zine as well as the culinary arts. His passion is the arts, his life is as a married humanitarian bisexual politically unaffiliated pacifist working as a Digital Preservation Archivist since 1999. Matt currently resides in an apartment with his equally creative wife of 7 years ,Jess and their cat Nigel.

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