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Look for Teddy at the top of the tree

The Tradition of Teddy

Surrounded by 1,000 colored lights, Teddy the bear will once again be perched on top of the Santa Clara holiday tree watching the community celebrate and bring in the New Year. 

Teddy was once the beloved toy of Alice Dixon Hillis whose father was the utilities superintendent for the City.

When Alice was just one year old, Mr.Dixon “borrowed” her bear to serve as an ornament on top of the tree he had just cut down in the Santa Cruz Mountains for City Hall. Teddy has spent December on the Santa Clara tree every since.

Teddy after the stormOver the years, Teddy the bear got a little bare. Employees of the Electric Department tried a mini-face lift with duct tape and silver spray paint, but Teddy continued to show his age. In 1987, Teddy under went more drastic surgery in the hands of Evelyn Carmichael, the wife of then Parks & Recreation Director Earl Carmichael. She refurbished Teddy with a furry tan cloth that closely resembles the way toy bears looked in 1911. At the time, the daughter of another City employee Wendy Taylor donated a raincoat and boots to help Teddy stay dry during winter storms.

Life was pretty good for Teddy until the winter storms of 1998 when City crews were so busy keeping power on for local homes and businesses that Teddy had an extended stay in the tree. Birds destroyed the yellow rain gear to get to Teddy’s fur for their nests. Again, Evelyn Carmichael came to the rescue and gave Teddy a makeover that brought him back to his original charming look.

The City stopped cutting down trees for the holiday display in 1970, so Teddy’s December home has been the same 70-foot Colorado blue spruce for more than three decades.

Last updated: 11/14/2012 2:55:09 PM