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The Time I Was A Giant Pink Care Bear

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

Have you ever strolled through an amusement park on a hot summer day and seen staff walking around in gigantic character costumes? I know I have. I used to think to myself, "Those poor people! I can't even begin to imagine how hot they are".

After my Care Bear costume fiasco in the 6th grade, I can confidently tell you that those friggin' costumes are as hot, if not hotter, than the bowels of hell.

Here's a little bit of background information that led to my position in that old, stale-smelling, boiling hot theme park Care Bear costume:

- I'm easy going for the most part.

- I have an Italian mom who can be scary if I'm not compliant.

- I'm a helper.

- I will do whatever it takes to make people laugh.

It was the last week of school and the PTA was having one final assembly for everyone in grades kindergarten through 6th. I had the inside scoop because my mom was directly involved in orchestrating the event. There was going to be a story teller who would entertain us with tall tails of whatever, to be followed up by the appearance of a "special guest". The special guest was supposed to be a bear that would be played by my most favorite teacher EVER, Ms. Filose. I didn't really care about listening to the stories, I was just excited to know that I would get to see Ms. Filose walking around the auditorium dressed as a plush toy.

Or so I thought.

Towards the end of the assembly, when said bear was supposed to make its appearance, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked up and saw my mother. I immediately knew there was a problem, so I did what any normal 12-year-old would do.

I ignored her.

She was persistent. She kept tapping me and then started to loudly whisper my name to get my attention. By that point, everyone in my class saw what was going on and I had no choice but to answer her.




I need your help!


With what?


We have a problem. Ms. Filose is claustrophobic and she can't wear the costume.


What do you mean she's claustrophic?!


She freaked out when I put the head on her. You need to come with me!

You have to understand something. All of the words that my mother was saying made no sense to me because my 12-year-old mind assumed Ms. Filose would be wearing a soft, fuzzy, lightweight costume with a zipper and a cute little mask.

Claustrophobia? Head? Jibberish.

So, I continued resisting my mother's urgent requests. The more I resisted, the louder she became and the more attention we drew.


Please leave me alone.


Gina Marie, please just come with me.


NO!! I don't wanna'!


Don't give me a hard time! Get up and let's go!

I had no choice. It was either have an argument in the middle of the auditorium and get a slap later on or just do what my mother was telling me to do.

When I arrived backstage, everything my mother was saying made sense. I saw Ms. Filose standing there in a GIGANTIC PINK CARE BEAR COSTUME with the head sitting on a folding chair next to her. She immediately starting simultaneously apologizing and thanking me for helping out. I pled with the Lord to make the experience as tolerable as possible as I helped her step out of the fuzzy pink bear body.

Within a matter of minutes, I was the one standing in the costume having a massive bear head lowered over my own. As she snapped it into place, my mom told me, "Don't worry! There's a fan inside to keep you cool."


Oh, there was a fan alright. Did it do anything to keep me comfortable? Absolutely not. I felt like I had been forced into an oven. I was so overwhelmed by the oppressive heat, that I didn't have time to react when my mom said:

"Now, when you hear the guy say 'I brought a special friend with me today', that's your cue to walk out. Mr. V. (another teacher) will be waiting for you and he's going to guide you around so you can wave to the kids. It might be a good idea to do a little dance, too." As soon as the words left her mouth, I was being pushed out in front of the crowd.

I was gonna' go down as the idiot kid who got stuck in a friggin' bear costume. Yup. I had to wave at children while bopping and dancing around the auditorium.

I had a change of heart and ignored the impending heat stroke once I actually got out into the crowd and heard everyone screaming with glee. Who knew that a dancing fool in a nasty old theme park costume could bring so much joy to a bunch of little kids?

My tour around the auditorium was fairly uneventful with the exception of the kindergarteners who pounded on my rear end and almost made me fall. All of my fellow 6th graders yelling "HI GINA!" in unison as I bopped past was also a fun experience.

Even though I was drenched with sweat and smelled like a gym locker room when I was done, I have to say that it was fun. I ended up having a deeper bond with Ms. Filose because I rescued her from a panic attack. Teachers and kids that I didn't even know thought that what I did was "so cool". It felt great to get laughter and applause for acting like a fool, thus setting in stone my love for making people smile with my theatrical antics.

To this day, I think nothing of putting on a wig and a costume if I know it'll make people happy. I'd prefer not to wear one of those theme park monstrosities, of course, but if that's what it takes, bring it on.

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