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Bear's win vaults creator into 'teddy bear history'

Joe Fishbear, created by Lin Muhrlin, takes a Golden Teddy award. Muhrlin says it is like winning an Oscar.

By JULIANNE WU, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 11, 2002


SEMINOLE -- To Lin Muhrlin, her lovable teddy bear creation, Joe Fishbear, has always been a winner.

Now her peers, readers of Teddy Bear Review magazine, agree.

Last month, at the annual Doll and Teddy Bear Expo in Washington, D.C., Muhrlin's bear won a Golden Teddy award in the category for individuals (as opposed to commercial manufacturers), for bears "Dressed/Accessorized, 12 inches and over."

Joe Fishbear was one of five entries selected for the category. Subscribers voted for their favorites in the July/August issue of the magazine.

Muhrlin, 46, of Seminole, said winning a Golden Teddy award in the collectible teddy bear world was akin to winning an Academy Award.

"It seemed like a full five minutes as I held my breath, the room was quiet and then suddenly I heard my name and Joe Fishbear appeared on the screen," said Muhrlin -- whose name sounds like Merlin the magician. "I can still hear the applause and cheers as I approached the stage to accept the award."

Joe Fishbear is made of mohair and stands about 15 inches tall. He sports a fishing vest with tiny pockets and a baseball cap and carries a miniature wooden fishing pole. Muhrlin's son Joe was the inspiration for the bear because, when he was little, he wanted a "masculine" bear.

Muhrlin, who works in client services for a Clearwater financial business, has created more than 50 bears for friends and relatives from six basic designs. They are featured on her Web site: www.merlinspets.freeservers.com.

As a result of Joe Fishbear's new-found celebrity, Muhrlin received a trophy, $1,000 worth of advertising in Teddy Bear Review magazine and a place in "teddy bear history," she said.

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