Fruit mascot delights Parkdale students

New Pear Packers tested as a promotional pilot program for Hood River Valley fruit

PARKDALE — A surprise visitor interrupted a geography lesson at Parkdale Elementary.

“Perry,” one of the Pear Bureau Northwest’s USA Pear Buddy mascots, strode into Pam Starling’s third grade classroom last week, to a moment of stunned silence followed by a chorus of shy giggles.

Accompanying the costumed figure was Mark Mears, field representative from the Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company. Mears had arranged the special appearance to introduce his daughter, Hannah, 9, and her peers to a new Pear Packer. He passed out individual Anjou pears in the clear container and pointed out that it prevented soft and juicy ready-to-eat fruit from bruising while in a lunch bag.

“We want everyone to use these and think of a nutritional snack when you come to school,” said Mears.

He was joined at the school by Laura Wieking, representative from the Pear Bureau, who was also interested in seeing how the students reacted to the reusable product — as well as helping to educate them about the role fresh fruit played in a healthy lifestyle.

“It was just kind of a pear promotion and pilot program to see how well these (containers) were received,” Mears said.

The recyclable mid-weight plastic holder spurred the creativity of the young recipients, one of whom immediately turned it into a pair of glasses and another who peeled off the label and stuck it on her forehead. Although Mears admits these uses were not exactly what the agriculture agency had in mind during production, he said the experience for students was extremely positive.

Following the visit to Starling’s class, Mears and Wieking passed out winter pears donated by Duckwall Pooley to the rest of the student body and the fruit — and new holders — were enjoyed during the lunch break.

“Have fun, play games, be active and eat lots of good food,” Mears told his delighted audience.

Pear Packers can be ordered directly from the Pear Bureau’s Website at www.usapears.com. The Bureau represents 1,600 orchardists in Oregon and Washington and develops national and international markets for Northwest-grown fruit distribution.

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