Bear the bear thought that, maybe, in New Jersey, he would finally make a friend. On Monday morning, he ended up in Montclair, not a bad little town, with its own art museum and a Whole Foods and big green backyards, perfect for a bear and his friends to play in. Scared and alone—his first time in New Jersey’s 60th-most-populous municipality—he began lumbering around, hoping that a friend would find him.
Alas, all of his potential friends were immediately ushered indoors. The New York Times reports that children across the Montclair school district were ordered to be kept inside Tuesday morning, staring at the cloudless blue sky from inside their classrooms, like bears in cages. Preparations for a fun-run to raise money for Africa were postponed. Cool eighth graders’ plans to discreetly smoke cigarettes behind the science trailer were put on hold. There would be no morning P.E.
“The Montclair Police Department has notified us that there have been bear citings in Montclair,” the superintendent explained in a note to parents. Unfortunately, for many, the typo of “citing” for “sighting” overshadowed the importance of the communication. (In a subsequent note, the superintendent apologized for the error, saying she “trusts that it did not overshadow the importance of the communication.”)
But back to that wandering, woeful black bear. Each time he was spotted, police rushed to the location to sound horns and make noise at him; a misguided attempt to drive him toward a nearby wildlife reservation that only succeeded in creating a party vibe. The Times reports that the scene buzzed with “a general carnival atmosphere.”
The bear wandered around near the Whole Foods, before he remembered he didn’t have any money. He shimmied up a tree and imagined all the things he and his friend would say to one another, like “You’re my friend and I love you.” He stood in a backyard and waited for his life to begin.
He was in a backyard, looking bored. He was up a tree, looking reflective. He was in the street, looking sad. The bear even made it near a Whole Foods market, where he was spotted looking confused, according to one posting.
“That’s just my face,” the bear would think later, after hearing the things people had been saying behind his back. “But now I really do feel sad.”
By midmorning, the 18 month old animal had been tranquilized, tagged, and, in classic Jersey fashion, given a tattoo he would not remember getting (for identification purposes).
The children were free to go outside.
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