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Dayton's Santa Bears return with a blast from the past

The Santa Bears took a 15-year-long break, but they're back.

MINNEAPOLIS — After 15 years, the Dayton's Santa Bears are finally back. 

There's a universal charm to the fluffy teddy bears. Adults and kids like them so, but the best part for grown ups is that they bring in a rush of nostalgia.

"I was so excited," said Andrea Nordick-Stone as she brought a couple of bears up to the counter, "I started getting them when I was five, when I was little. So it's a childhood memory."

Nordick-Stone said she had all of the bears since the very first one launched in 1985. 

The full collection was a common theme for those who came seeking the bears specifically.

"My parents started with us when we were kids, out of Fargo, North Dakota when they had the Santa Bears at Dayton's," another woman said, while getting her bears checked out. 

Some call backs to the days of the mid-80's were pretty literal — one woman brought the original bear from 1986. 

"I got my original 1986," she said as she pulled it out of her tote. "I slept with it every night since then. My whole family's like, 'Please get a new one. That's disgusting!'"

Hitting customers right in the feels was exactly what Dayton's curator Mich Berthiaume was going for.

"We knew what the Santa Bear meant," Berthiaume said. "I mean, I stood in line with my mom and my sisters and I bought one for my first daughter who was born in 1989. So we all have that really deep connection to Dayton's department store."

Just like how it was for Andrea Forscht, who brought her two kids and her parents along for the first time since Dayton's re-opened on Nicollet Mall.

"We used to come down for like the 8th floor auditorium, Dayton's productions and everything," Forscht said. "I remember coming in, parking downtown. It was nighttime with my parents going up to the 8th floor, and through the auditorium and watching the Holidazzle parade. So bringing them back to Dayton's is actually super special, and being able to get the bears with them is really cool."

Forscht added that she'd like to continue to do the yearly Dayton's trip for the bears with her kids.

"This is a cool new tradition to have," she said. "This is our first time coming down here, too. Just really fun to see all the vendors and local shops and this is just the cherry on the pie."

The bears are limited in supply, and Dayton's said it will be updating its social media channels on their availability. 

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