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The mascot of Medford now retired

The recent passing of former Medford Mayor Jerry Lausmann, and the photo you ran of him with Huggy Bear, got me wondering about the city's old mascot. Where is Huggy Bear? Does anybody know? Is it true he hugged Ronald Reagan? And does Medford still pride itself on being the city that hugs?

— Nancy M., Talent

The SYA team was getting geared up to go on a full-blown Huggy Bear hunt, when one of us got the brilliant idea to check first with the Medford Visitors and Convention Bureau, Huggy's last known employer.

We managed to get hold of Anne Jenkins, the senior vice president, who was more than willing to answer all of our Huggy-related questions.

"Huggy had to retire around the beginning of 2000," said Jenkins.

"He is enjoying his retirement 100 percent, and he doesn't come out of retirement often.

"He decided it was time to retire," she added. "It was time to move on."

We asked Jenkins whether there were any workplace conflicts between Huggy and the nonbear members of the bureau's staff. She assured us there weren't, while pointing out that he was a remarkably effective mascot for the bureau and for Medford.

"You know, Huggy was really used as a marketing campaign, and he did that very well," she said, speaking about the bureau's long-running "branding" campaign, during which Medford made a name for itself as the city of hugs.

"It was a very effective program," she said. "(But) when Huggy retired, we changed the campaign to 'The Center of it All.' "

While Jenkins wasn't sure whether Huggy really hugged Ronald Reagan, she did assure us that Huggy was happy and in good company.

"Huggy is still around," she said. "He is not in some warehouse all by himself."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.