A summer project involving bears planned by the Gathering Place is in hibernation.

The Clarks Summit-based community center was scheduled to unveil its Bears in the Summit project in July, but the COVID-19 pandemic led organizers to postpone the event until next year.

“It wasn’t possible,” Gathering Place President Dori Waters said. “We’ve been closed since mid-March.”

Six local artists have submitted designs for the 3D, 2½-foot-tall plastic bears that will be displayed outside local businesses next July, project manager Colleen Carter said.

Waters said at least two businesses have paid the fee of about $300 to sponsor a bear. She thought bears would be a “perfect symbol” for Clarks Summit because many people report seeing them in their backyards.

The Gathering Place was awarded a $1,200 county arts and culture grant in January and a $1,430 grant from the Lackawanna Valley Heritage Authority in April to help fund the project.

The money will be used to pay local artists to paint the bears, Waters said.

While there was some initial disappointment with the postponement, organizers think the extra time will make the project better.

“The longer time frame gives us more opportunity to build up a more robust program set that will appeal to all ages,” Carter said.

One idea is to have a nature walk with a bear expert who will discuss the ecology of the trails in Clarks Summit, Carter said.

A committee composed of members of the community, local business owners and representatives from the Abington Business and Professional Association and Lackawanna State Park will be formed in the fall to develop aspects of the project, Carter said.

The event is tentatively rescheduled for July 2021 but could be put on hold again if conditions aren’t safe.

“It’s really up in the air with the pandemic,” Waters said. “My hope is that next year will be OK.”

Carter is looking forward to learning more about how bears have incorporated themselves into the area.

“We’re interested in engaging the community to tell stories about their own experiences with bears,” she said.

Clarks Summit Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe thinks the event will bring positive attention to the area.

“Anything that beautifies and attracts foot traffic into the borough is a good thing,” she said. “The Gathering Place has always supported the community and offered things that benefit the downtown businesses.”

Contact the writer: rtomkavage@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5365