Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra debuts tonight in Kannapolis

Published 4:31 pm Friday, December 2, 2022

KANNANPOLIS — The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra will join the Celebration of Light festivities at Village Park beginning tonight.

The orchestra is made up of 18 animatronic bears who sing and play instruments for a 45-minute program. The bears banter back and forth between songs, including 36 traditional Christmas favorites, melodic instrumentals and Hannukah music.

The Christmas Bears will perform at the top of the hour, every hour, with a 15-minute intermission in between. In addition, the Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra has ample seating indoors at the park . Admission is free but no food or drinks are allowed.

The Chuckles Quartet will also star Chuckles, Grizzly Gus, Blue and Honey at the Celebration of Lights. The Chuckles Quartet is a lively band that plays a 35-minute program of Christmas favorites with a more fast-paced and upbeat groove.

The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra is one of 11 sets of animatronic bear orchestras that were born of the concept and creation of Paul Lawrence, a long-time friend of current owners Todd and Jessica Alexander of Spintastic Sounds. “These bears were everything to Paul,” stated Todd Alexander, “I worked alongside him programming and perfecting the bears. All of the bears are named after Jazz legends-Paul was a huge fan of jazz music and a drummer himself-and made me work to get the Gene Krupa drummer bear to be perfectly on beat.”

They were put on hiatus in 2019 due to COVID. “My favorite part of the holiday season is watching the children’s faces light up when the bears start to sing and play-those smiles filled with wonder are the tradition that Todd and I want to continue,” says Jessica Alexander.

Both Todd and Jessica Alexander of Spintastic Sounds have been caretakers of the bears for the past 10 years after Lawrence’s retirement. Since the sad news of his passing this year, the bears have become a legacy to a man whose greatest joy was spreading the warmth and love of the holiday season through the music of his Christmas Bears.

“We are very excited to host the orchestra this holiday season. They will be a great addition to our Celebration of Lights. I hope everyone will come out, enjoy the show and all the festivities at Village Park,” Director of Parks and Recreation Gary Mills said.

The Celebration Of Lights includes more than 250,000 light decorations and holiday displays that runs until Dec. 30. There is no admission charge, but reservations are required to ride the Winterland Express and the carousel. Village Park is at 700 W C Street.