The once-competing Bear social groups, Bears of Central Florida (BOCF) and Bears, Cubs, Chubbies and Chasers (BC3) are now joining forces.
Fred Belgie, with BC3, said BOCF leadership approached him about working together.
“There were three key people in BOCF that caused a lot of the friction and they’re gone,” said Belgie, which paved the way for the new partnership.
BOCF does have new leadership. Former president Jamie Beverly resigned so former vice president Rob Roberts stepped into the club’s top role.
The source of much contention last year was BC3’s decision to have a weekend event at Parliament House during the same weekend as BOCF’s traditional Bear Bust weekend, held at a different resort. Roberts said as soon as he stepped into the president’s spot, he wanted to move back toward working with BC3.
“As of last year with Bear Bust I had wanted Parliament House to be a part of Bear Bust still,” Roberts said. “There were several of us on the board who felt that even though Parliament House wasn’t the correct location for the entire [Bear Bust] event, they were still an important part of the community and should have been included in Bear Bust, so we wanted to rectify that this year.”
According to Roberts, the weekend is Oct. 14-17 and will be split between Parliament House and the Royal Plaza Resort, Bear Bust’s host hotel for 2010. Friday night there will be a welcome party at the Royal Plaza with a shuttle to P-House later, with activities at the hotel for anyone who wants to stay. On Saturday night, there will be a Black and Red Ball at Royal Plaza commemorating Bear Bust’s 20th anniversary, then Sunday includes a farewell T-dance at Parliament House.
In the meantime, the groups are working together on a monthly Bear event at Parliament House, which debuted July 24. Belgie said 200–300 people attended, and they raised several hundred dollars which went to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
The next event will be Aug. 20, and then every 3rd Friday of the month after that. On July 24, Parliament House also revealed that the back bar is now a dedicated Bear bar, complete with a new sign labeling it the “Bear Den.”
Belgie said BC3 will continue as a social club, with more events planned. He said he’s happy about the new partnership with BOCF.
“Working together is not a bad thing,” he said. “It just gives the Bears in Central Florida more to do, and two groups is very do-able.”
“I think between the two of us we should be able to bring the community together again and make sure everybody gets what they need out of the bear community in Orlando,” he said.
And what about the rumors and accusations regarding money mismanagement by BOCF?
“All of our records as far as money is concerned are a matter of public domain and anyone who is interested can come to our monthly meeting on the second Sunday of each month at 5 p.m. at Parliament House and ask to see those,” said Roberts. “The general membership meeting is open to the public.”