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Halifax, North Carolina: Yogi Bear Graveyard (Gone)

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Two views of Yogi.

Yogi Bear and Friends Graveyard

Lakewood Truck Stop is a pretty typical setup -- restaurant, convenience store, gasoline/diesel, amenities for travelers. Its exterior decorations, though, are what make it stand out. As far back as I can remember the place (to the early 70s), it's been decorated with all kinds of fiberglass animals & other characters, most of which are now gone.

In its heyday, when viewed from the Interstate, the main building and the land surrounding it seemed to be covered with life-sized plastic cows, big cats, deer, dogs. There used to be a couple of gorillas, frozen in mid-chest-beat, up on the roof. As a kid, the thing that always held my attention (and made me NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG my parents to stop there whenever we drove by), was the cast of Yogi Bear chracters on display in the parking lot. Numerous SETS of Yogis, Boo Boos, Cindy Bears, and Ranger Smiths. Yogi was about 10 feet tall,and in his right fist he clutched a poultry-like drumstick the size of a whiffle bat. The other characters measured in at roughly the size of an adult human.

When I read Mr. Dashew's (Muffler Man creator) remark about having created some Yogi Bears for a Carolina-based fried chicken chain, I became excited enough to conscript a couple of friends to investigate the scene at Lakewood Truck Stop.

One decaying set of characters remains in its place out front of Lakewood today (the Ranger has vanished altogether). On close inspection, even that set was a real mess. Yogi's "drumstick" hand had broken off (no doubt from the strain of its own weight), & he now sported a jagged stump. His huge, many-times repainted back was scratched with obscenities. Cindy's left arm and side appeared to have been long-since ripped off, and her torso was filled waist-deep with mulching garbage. Yogi's "cave" (a 4-foot high fiberglass igloo-shaped dome standing near the three remaining characters) was full of FOUL refuse.

A drive around the periphery of Lakewood's parking lot was pretty interesting, though: several of the fiberglass decorations of old appeared to be scattered here-&-there nearby, many only half-hidden from view. A cow and the gorillas (formerly from the roof of the main truck stop building) stood unattended and forgotten beneath a metal, high-roofed shelter. Far behind a chain link fence surrounding an abandoned-looking lot of some kind, several unidentifiable fiberglass hands reached skyward through a choke of tall grass.

But the BEST thing my friends & I found was the motherlode: Obscured from view down a short, swampy, weed-choked driveway, heaped at what's probably the edge of the property, right beside the nearby woods, lay ALL the Yogi Bear characters I recall from my childhood! Including the Rangers!

Once we'd trudged through the mud (without permission) to get close enough for pictures, we realized just HOW creepy this scene really was. Numerous Yogi Bears and all his castmembers -- maybe a couple dozen figures total -- were held in place by saplings, bushes, and a two-foot high wet, weedy overgrowth. There they lay fading, on their backs or face-down, out in the elements, piled on top of each other like so much cordwood! Like....a friggin' cartoon mass-burial holocaust orgy!

I'd wager that possibly ALL of the characters Dashew molded for the "Yogi Bear's Honey Fried Chicken" chain -- which I, a lifelong North Carolinian, had never before heard of (so I'd guess it's at least 30 years defunct) -- anyway, possibly ALL of the characters may still exist, quietly deteriorating out by the woods.

[Nate Etheridge, 09/17/2000]

Yogi Bear Graveyard

I-95, exit 168, west side of highway 903, was behind the Oasis truck stop.
2010: All figures are gone.

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