THE Ballymena Bear made a very special appearance on Thursday evening at the Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena. Hundreds of local families, friends and businesses enjoyed the festive atmosphere as they joined Bertie the Bear to be amongst the very first viewers of its new Christmas advert.
Guests were entertained by Aladdin and Princess Jasmine from c21 Theatre Company who gave a small taster of what’s to come in the Braid Arts Centre pantomime before everyone made their way into the auditorium where the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Audrey Wales, MBE, welcomed everyone.
Before the highly anticipated new advert was shown, the winner of the ‘Best Dressed Bear’ competition was announced by the Mayor. Joy Snoddy was the lucky winner, with her very own ‘Mayor Audrey Wales’ bear. She won her very own Ballymena Bear to take home and also helped turn on the town’s Christmas lights which followed the preview event.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Audrey Wales, MBE said; “It was great to see so many local families and members of the local business community at the Ballymena Bear preview. The town is gearing up for a busy and festive Christmas season and we hope everyone enjoys seeing the Ballymena Bear advert. I must also congratulate Joy Snoddy on winning the ‘Best Dressed Bear’ competition, to the runners up Lucas Martin and Kayla Martin and to all of the children who took part.”
The Ballymena Bear preview event was organised by Ballymena BID to showcase this year’s Christmas advert which was produced to encourage people to visit the town, especially in the run up to Christmas.
Alison Moore, BID Manager said; “We were delighted to organise this special event and to give the local community and businesses the opportunity to get a sneak peak of what the Ballymena Bear has been up to this year.
“The success of the advert last year helped boost the town’s appeal and we hope to see a similar situation this year. Ballymena is a great shopping town with lots of independent retailers and businesses and has so much to offer so we hope this advert will encourage more people to come and visit the town.”
The Ballymena Bear became a viral sensation and global hit last year when it first appeared to promote the town’s Christmas festivities. The film was made by Ballymena-based Grafters Design Studio and starred Rachel Stevenson, while the bear was made by Michele Lowry of local gift shop Penny & Rose from linen supplied by Baird McNutt, also based in the town.
Stephen Reid, from Grafters Design Studio commented; “Bringing the Ballymena Bear to life last year was a special highlight for Grafters as it was our first narrative based film project. We were absolutely delighted by the reception it got and couldn’t have been more proud with the positive boost it brought to our town. This year we want to do even better and are really hoping that we can help put Ballymena on the map as a perfect Christmas shopping destination.”
Following the preview event, the town’s Christmas lights were turned on so the countdown to Christmas has really begun. The Ballymena Bear advert will be publicly available from Thursday 17thNovember 2016 on the Ballymena Means Facebook page and YouTube channel highlighting just what festive fun Ballymena has to offer.