Be on lookout for bears in the Pedway

The colorful creatures in artist Jason Scroggin’s “Massimals” art installation will “hibernate” under the city this winter.

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The “Massimals in the Loop” art installation along the Chicago Pedway.

The “Massimals in the Loop” art installation along the Chicago Pedway.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

If you see bears in the Pedway, don’t worry about being faster than the guy next to you.

Youwon’t get mauled.

They’re plastic and meant to brighten your day.

“We hope to bring a little fun in the winter months to a place that’s kind of dreary,’ said Kalindi Parikh of the Chicago Loop Alliance, a chamber of commerce of sorts.

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People interact with the “Massimals” installation along the Chicago Pedway.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Ten of the creatures — some as big as a bear — were installed Friday at three locations along the Pedway: underneath Macy’s, at the foodcourt under the Thompson Center and beneaththe Daley Center.

“When people encounter them, I hope there’s an element of surprise, but hopefully also happiness or joy,” said artist Jason Scroggin, who dubbed his creations “Massimals” as a nod to the architectural technique of massing, or creating a rough 3-D model.

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“Massimals” artist Jason Scroggin poses with one of his pieces on Friday.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Scroggin gauged initial reactions Friday after a few bears were put in place — including a slight backlash to one particular, unintended color scheme.

“A few people were like ‘Why’d you choose those colors? Those are Packers colors.’” Scroggin said, noting that he has no bear in that fight.

“I’m from Kentucky,” he said with a laugh.

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Pedestrians pass by the installation in the Pedway.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Organizers of the exhibit also hope to draw attention to the Pedway — an underutilized asset that allows people to escape the cold.

“It’s a quirky thing for newcomers — kind of something you have to be in the know about,”Parikh said, adding that the Pedway is the perfect subterranean spot for hibernation.

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“Massimals in the Loop,” an art installation along the Pedway, is also located in the basement of the Thompson Center.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

The bears will be up through the winter months — hopefully.

“It’s hard to say how the public will interact with them,” Chicago Loop Alliance spokeswoman Jessica Cabe said.

In other words, as long as they remain unscathed by all sorts of curious onlookers.

“Little kids see it and run towards it and their parents are like ‘Oh! No, no, no, no, don’t touch,” Scroggin said with a chuckle.

That’s exactly what 10-year-old Mira Kelley did when she saw them while leaving a nearby bookstore in the pedway.

“It’s so big!” she pointed out as she dashed to the large, blue-and-yellow sculpture to pet the bear. “I like this one because purple and yellow are my favorite colors, and the blue kind of looks like purple with the right distance.”

Her 7-year-old sister, Gwenna Kelly, said she liked the green-and-red “Christmas bear.”

The two girls were downtown with their parents Saturday afternoon to see the Christkindlmarket and Macy’s Christmas displays.

Mom Laura Kelley also commented on the Packers-colored sculpture, noting that a much-smaller bear in front of it resembled the Chicago Bears color scheme.

“The sizes should be flipped,” she joked.

Ying Lang, who lives nearby, stopped while walking through the Pedway to admire the bears’ construction. She said they would be fun to build.

“They should make smaller ones out of cardboard that kids can play with and make by themselves,” she said.

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