Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Rise and Fall of the 40 ft. Inflatable Hamm's Bear--a photo essay

On July 9, 2016 in Cloquet, MN, a town just outside of Duluth, the historic Northeastern Hotel and Saloon hosted a brewery collectibles show called the Nordlager Show, named after an old local brew. Hotel and Saloon owner Bert Whittington took out of storage a massive inflatable Hamm's Bear, manufactured around 1980 for the Olympia Brewing Company, the makers of Hamm's beer at the time. Connected to two electric-powered air compressors, the huge vinyl blob lying on the ground came to life, and the familiar cartoon character Hamm's Bear stood tall and proud, greeting passersby for a triumphant but brief moment...until he started to lose air.

1. He came to life from a big blob of vinyl on the ground. Owner Bert Whittington helps him up as he fills with air.
2. "Hello, Folks!" The Bear stands triumphantly, greeting passersby with an awkward left arm.
3. Pete and Bert celebrate with a cool, refreshing Hamm's beer.
Note how much smaller the real can (in Bert's hand) is.
4. People came from all over to look at the thing.
5. Standing tall and proud, 40 feet high.
6. Uh-oh! He's sprung a leak!
7. Looking like he's about to hurl after consuming the contents of the giant beer can.
8. Another view of the sick, deflating bear, the beer can looking dented and forlorn.
9. Oh well. Better luck next year.

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