Back in the 70's we went to the Smokey Mountains almost every weekend in the summer. We were a typical touristy family and did all the touristy things that were humanly possible to do each weekend. Anyone who has ever been to the Smokey's and Gatlinburg and Cherokee can tell you it is a mecca for tourists. It has everything from nature to metro and in between.
Everytime we would go into the mountains we would see the bears. They were constantly begging and they were so adorable. My dad in his wisdom would never allow us near them - except for one time. We were with my Uncle and his family doing a giant family vacation before they shipped off to Germany for a few years (Air Force).
We were in a picnic area and a there was a bear and there were tourists feeding it. Before long we were drawn in with the rest of the tourists and we were feeding it as well. The bear was really happy because I don't know what everybody else was feeding it but we were giving it Kentucky Fried Chicken and it was scarfing the stuff up.
Pretty soon we were only a couple of feet from the bear, surrounding it I might add. It seemed safe enough at the time. Now here is the part that only I seem to remember. I watched as somebody threw a "red hot" piece of candy on the ground at the bear. I remember thinking that the bear was not going to like it. (for those of you who don't know what a "red hot" is, it is a very hot, cinnamon piece of hard candy) As soon as the bear put the "red hot" into it's mouth it started to shake it's head.
Then it started to growl and paw at it's face and buck around. Immediately everybody scattered to safety. People were ducking behind trees and running to their cars and my mom actually jumped into a car with 2 men she had never even seen before! The bear started to run. My dad was directly in the bear's path. He started to run! The bear chased him about 30 yards and my dad ducked into an outside toilet to get away fromt he bear! Actually he jumped over the partitions that they build around the outside of the building to give privacy to the user.
Thankfully the bear kept running.
That is the favorite family story about my dad that people in my family tell to this day. Because I am the only one who remembers the part about the "red hot" they insist that I must have been the one to feed it to the bear. I am stating for the record.
IT WAS NOT ME!
I just happened to be in the perfect spot to see it hit the ground, that's all.