Community leaders in Bear Valley Springs hope to raise tourism by hosting new annual event

Challenge of the Bear planned for Fourth of July

BEAR VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif. - Leaders from Bear Valley Springs are giving people a lesson in history as they celebrate our nation’s birthday.  The Challenge of the Bear is an event helping boost tourism and a chance for visitors to experience the valley’s beauty.

There’s a lot to see in Bear Valley Springs and the cool temperatures are just some of the reasons bringing people to this small community in Kern County.

“It’s tucked in the mountains. Our elevations are roughly from 4,000 to 7,000 feet.  As you can realize from this morning we’re in the low 60’s and we get into the mid 80’s.  It’s a little bit different than the high desert where you’re in the 100’s,” said race director, Jay Carlyn.

Community leaders have organized their first annual ‘Challenge of the Bear,’ a bicycle ride up the Tehachapi Mountains, mixed with music, food and history.

Among this year’s attractions are hot air balloons, giving people an opportunity to look at the valley in a different way.

“It’s sharing something that’s really special.  It’s more about the people than the technology or the flying. The balloons are very beautiful and that’s one of the things that initially attracted us to it, but to see people’s reactions,” said balloon operator Paul Cheatham.

Joel Bowman is leaving for boot camp next year.  He says Bear Valley and all of its offerings is something he’ll always remember especially all the view from above.

“The feeling of looking at your own house while sitting in a balloon filled with hot air, even if you have a fear of heights, it takes the fear out of you,” he said.

The hardest routes on the challenge included a 62-mile route which about 50 bicyclist from northern and southern California, even Las Vegas signed up to ride.

“The down hills are probably more challenging than the uphill. It’s pretty much technical,” said bicyclist, John Grigaliunas.

In honor of the Independence Day celebration, young people re-enacted the first battle of the American Revolution.

“The Fourth of July is really a celebration of not America now, but America as it was, as it is and as it will be. I believe that the Fourth of July should be a reminder of where we came from because only by looking at the past can we know how to get better in the future,” said actor Christopher Hounihan.

More than 50 volunteers and 11 months of planning helped leaders organize this community-wide event, which they hope to make into a tradition.

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