If you go down to Ballymena today, you are sure of a big surprise! As part of its ongoing summer celebrations, the Ballymena BID in partnership with the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has unveiled three giant bears made entirely of miniature shrubs and plants.

Fashioned to represent Bertie the Ballymena Bear, each impressive and colourful display is over two meters tall and planted out with seasonal foliage. The bears are positioned for maximum visual effect and public interaction at focal points in the town and can be found at Bryan Street, Harmony Hub and the William Street entrance to Fairhill Shopping Centre.

 Pictured are Erin (8) and Jack (5) who were on hand to welcome the bears to Ballymena.

The enchanting displays have been installed by Ballymena Business Improvement District (BID) to attract shoppers and visitors to a town famous for its varied array of unique retail opportunities, good food experiences and vibrant cultural life. The Mid and East Antrim Borough Council are delighted to support this initiative.

The Ballymena BID, is made up of local businesses, from small independent retailers to larger high street brands, working together to create a welcoming, accessible and distinctive location for all to shop, visit and enjoy.

Andy Storey, Vice Chair of the Ballymena BID said: “These three bears add a really fun element to the town landscape. They have been installed to make people smile, and we are confident they will be adored by young and old alike.

“People will love to have their photo taken with these bears to share on social media, sending out a vibrant message that Ballymena has a lot to offer. Planned events around the features will include Family Treasure Hunts, Selfie Competitions and more. The exciting arrival of the three bears is part of an ongoing, year-round program by BID to encourage people to come to Ballymena and enjoy its many unique amenities.

“For example, town centre shoppers are entertained every Saturday afternoon by live music performed at the Harmony Hub, while the very popular Urban Beach project continues until the end of the month in the People’s Park and will include a family-friendly, outdoor screening of Disney’s Moana on Friday, August 16 from 6pm to 8pm.”

Alderman Audrey Wales, MEA council representative and BID Board member continued: “I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Ballymena BID on these wonderful bears which will bring such fun, flair and delight to our town centre.

“And Ballymena’s social calendar is rapidly filling up for the rest of the year. We are already looking forward to staging the new country music festival, Back to Country, on September 6 and 7 with live local bands performing at venues throughout the town.

“Of course, the highlight of the retail year is our famous annual, pre-Christmas bonanza ‘Ballymena Means Discount Day’, scheduled to take place on November 7, with extensive discounts being offered by our top retailers.

“This town really is the place to be this summer.

Alderman Wales concluded: “We hope as many people as possible will come and get their photographs taken with the Bears and send them to us for use across our social media channels.”

The eye-catching displays have been welcomed by Mid and East Antrim Council which is actively supporting a wide range of activities to promote the town

Maureen Morrow, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “These unique bear displays are really worth seeing and add such a flair of colour and fun to our wonderful town centre. We hope many people will come along to Ballymena and’ paws’ to meet our new attractions.

“MEA council welcomes all initiatives that bring positive attention to Ballymena, improve and enhance our townscape and help promote our local businesses. We offer something different with our unique range of shops, cafes and restaurants and brings a positive vibe to the streets. That makes a visit to our welcoming town well worth the effort.”

Visit http://ballymenameans.com  and follow #ballymenabear for more information on the Ballymena BID’s work.

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