A man dressed as a plush, life-size teddy bear who has been trekking his way across the country to raise money for charity arrived in Taos County on Tuesday (Aug. 17).
Jesse Larios, the 33 year old better known by his moniker, Bearsun, entered Taos to the sound of cheers from a large crowd of local residents at the Hotel Don Fernando de Taos on Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Many people in the crowd said they were there to support the social media star and his now famous efforts to raise money for charities funding a variety of causes, including cancer research, mental health support, environmentalism and resources for people with disabilities.
Larios began his journey in April in Los Angeles with the goal of walking all the way to San Francisco in the bear costume he designed himself. After reaching San Francisco, he decided to keep going, this time with the goal of making it all the way to New York City.
Hundreds of people from all over Taos County, New Mexico and even other states met Bearsun at the Hotel Don Fernando de Taos, where he was given a free room for the night. As Bearsun made his way north through the canyon from Española, Taos County Sheriff’s deputies picked him up as he entered the horseshoe and gave him a ride to the hotel.
A meet and greet was organized, and children and adults alike lined up to have their picture taken with Bearsun or give him a hug. Chelsea Declay, who traveled over seven hours from Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona with her youngest daughter, sister-in-law and her boyfriend, said she had been waiting for the moment to meet him and express her support.
“I have a nephew who’s autistic, I have a sister who’s bipolar, and I have a daughter who’s disabled. It just kind of means a lot to me,” she said.
Alex Tessay, who came with Declay, said he supports Bearsun’s support of people with mental illness, which resonates with him because of his own struggles with bipolar disorder and depression. “He’s walking for me and everyone else that deals with mental illness … its so good to see, and I’m appreciative of what he’s doing,” said Tessay.
Several local teachers, who did not want their names mentioned, said they found inspiration in Bearsun’s cross-country endeavor. “We’re proud of him for standing up for all these issues that we’re facing, and we just want to support him in his trek across the United States,” said one of the Taos Pueblo Head Start teachers.
After fans had a chance to hug and meet Bearsun, members of the Serpent Trail Dance Group from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo performed a dance and said a prayer wishing Bearsun well on his journey.
Before leaving Taos on Wednesday (Aug. 18), he was invited to Taos Pueblo, where he was warmly greeted and wished safe travels as he made his way east toward Eagle Nest.