A video of a black bear puppet dancing in a Minneapolis neighborhood has gone viral.
The puppet, made by Minneapolis artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella, made an appearance on July 15 during the neighborhood gathering in the Powderhorn Park area of South Minneapolis.
According to @MollyPeonies on Twitter, the block has had gatherings since the uprisings following George Floyd's death to "connect with one another, celebrate our artist community and to work together for racial justice and equity."
Lutter-Gardella told BMTN he was hosting the monthly block party outside his house last week and decided to bring the bear puppet, named Bubba, out as something uplifting and fun for the kids on his block, noting past gatherings have had activities, including a Zumba class.
"It blew up on Twitter. I'm getting friend requests from Bangkok, Thailand – people are seeing it all over the world. So it's kind of a surprise," Lutter-Gardella said.
Bubba takes two people to control. Lutter-Gardella wears a backpack inside the bear to control its front half and on this occasion, his son was inside controlling the back half.
Lutter-Gardella has been doing puppetry in the Powderhorn neighborhood since the early 1990s. Since he made Bubba out of recycled materials in 2004, he's brought the bear to community events in the park, May Day parades and puts the puppet out on Halloween. Lutter-Gardella says the bear is like the Big Bird of the neighborhood, with many in the community remembering him from previous appearances.
"I've been impressed at how much joy the simplest things can bring," Lutter-Gardella said. "I do a lot of animal puppets and this was another instance of how delightful it was for people, and uplifting and ... making people smile in a really difficult time."
He hopes to continue to use puppetry and his other animal figures to lift people's spirits and bring some fun during this difficult time.
Lutter-Gardella has done a large-scale art installation of monarch butterflies at Mall of America and is the artist behind the yeti at the 2019 Minneapolis Holidazzle bazaar, according to his website.