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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

A BRAND NEW BEAR: Members of the Cochecton Preservation Society happily surround Woody II last Thursday afternoon. The members gathered for the dedication of Woody II, who replaces the original wooden bear that was stolen last year.

Woody Makes Triumphant Return

By Rob Potter
COCHECTON — July 18, 2000 – Fifteen months after Woody the Bear was senselessly cut off at the feet and stolen from his concrete base along Route 97 near the Cochecton Preservation Society, another bear now stands in his place.
Dubbed “Woody II,” the new bear was dedicated in a short ceremony last Thursday afternoon by the members of the Cochecton Preservation Society.
Members wanted to replace the stolen Woody sooner but had to wait until a suitable log became available. Recently, Bill Eschenberg of Callicoon came across such a sizeable log. Woodcarver Dick Guttzeit of Lake Huntington then used the pine log to carve Woody II, who weighs approximately 600 lbs.
“He is closer to the road and more reinforced,” Woody Schlegel, president of the Cochecton Preservation Society, said of Woody II. “There are two concrete reinforced rods running up each leg. So if anyone tries to saw off this bear’s legs and take him, it will be more difficult.”
Of course, Schlegel and the dozens of other people at the brief ceremony hope that Woody II does not meet the same fate as his “older brother.” Schlegel recalled how people often waved or honked their horns at Woody while driving by on Route 97 and how they decorated him for holidays. When he was stolen, the original Woody had a basket of Easter eggs in his paw. He also was known to wear a wreath for Christmas and some green for St. Patrick’s Day.
Schlegel noted the idea to name the original bear came from former Cochecton Preservation Society President Melvin “Moppey” Pierce. And the society members naturally felt that the new bear should be called “Woody II.”
Dottie Schlegel, a Cochecton Preservation Society member and wife of Woody Schlegel, was among those celebrating the unveiling of Woody II.
“This is wonderful, I’m so excited,” she said. “I just hope to goodness that someone doesn’t try and damage him or take him like they did to the other one.”

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