Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra debuts at Celebration of Lights

The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra comprises 18 animatronic bears who sing and play...
The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra comprises 18 animatronic bears who sing and play instruments for a 45-minute program(City of Kannapolis)
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:51 AM EST
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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra has joined the Celebration of Light festivities at Village Park in Kannapolis.

The orchestra is sharing their holiday magic in Kannapolis with children and adults alike with their witty banter, inspiring instrumental pieces, and traditional favorite holiday songs!

The Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra comprises 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 where you can warm up your fingers and toes while singing your favorite holiday songs. Admission is free but no food or drinks are allowed.

They join their bear family friends, the Chuckles Quartet, starring Chuckles, Grizzly Gus, Blue, and Honey, who have been long-time outdoor features 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 eleven 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.”

A lot of work, and a lot of love, has gone into preparing the Christmas Bears for the holiday season. Before their hiatus that began in 2019 due to Covid, the Christmas Bears were a Greater Charlotte holiday tradition. As a result, many area families have grown up watching the bears perform over the holidays. “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 ten years after Mr. 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 commented.

The Celebration Of Lights draws thousands of families annually to Kannapolis to see over 250,000 light decorations and holiday displays that runs until December 30th (Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day). There is no admission charge, but reservations are required to ride the Winterland Express and Carousel. The event is held in Village Park, at 700 W C Street.