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@PrincetonBear Gains a Following

After the bear sauntered through town on Tuesday and Wednesday, Patch interviewed the tweeting bear to get the scoop on its adventures.


, one woman kept residents entertained as she chronicled the bear's escapades via Twitter. 

Linda Hill has charmed locals and armed @PrincetonBear with a quick wit and a winning personality through a serious of snappy one-liners online. 

"Bears' night out!" she wrote to the Princeton Township Police as officers were responding to bear sightings around town. "You still open?" she tweeted to local ice cream shop . When the bear was spotted at the east end of Nassau Street, @PrincetonBear sent a message to that read, "I'll have a whole eggplant parm to go, pronto."

Hill began tweeting as @PrincetonBear in May and claims she's just an average Princeton-area resident who decided spur of the moment to have some fun using social media. She got the idea from the two men who started a Twitter feed as the voice of the Cobra snake that escaped the Bronx Zoo last year

"I followed the BronxZoosCobra and it was hilarious," she said. "I thought if the Bronx can have the snake, Princeton can have a bear."

(See the end of the article for an "interview" with Princeton's newest visitor)

Intrigued by the idea of a wild bear wandering the suburban streets of Princeton, Hill began tweeting shortly before reunions when a small black bear spent days wandering between Princeton Township and Borough, much to the curiosity of residents who seemed to track its every move.

"The first time it was right before reunions and there was so much activity in town that I got to interact with so many individuals and institutions like the and Princeton University and so many local businesses," Hill said. 

And suddenly @PrincetonBear gained not only a following but also interest in who might be giving the bear a voice. Several people thought owner Mimi Omiecinski might be behind the Twitter feed. Others thought it was @BethNoLastName, Hill said. 

When Hill's not assuming the persona of local bears, she works as a fundraiser for Princeton HealthCare System Foundation. Her job includes managing the Foundation's Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

"The Princeton Bear was something so totally different and fun and it's nice to be anonymous," she said. 

Anonymous? Maybe. Popular? Without a doubt. 

The bear's online presence has sparked an invitation to the weekly Princeton Farmers' Market for organic honey and an invite for free dinner at . 

And while the real black bear may have left town for now, if he returns, so too may @PrincetonBear. 

"I think I might be back if there's content out there and people still want to interact with the feed," Hill said. "I want to thank the people who have found me, are following me and are interacting with the bear. 

"They're doing what I wanted to do, which is just to have fun," she said.

 

Patch asked Hill to channel the Princeton Bear to give us some insight into his hijinks around town. 

 

You seem to enjoy coming to Princeton. What is it you like about our town? Well, I think for a bear, the town has a lot of offer, there are wonderful places to eat and we sure love to do that. There are plenty of trees to climb and wonderful residents who have welcomed me to town. Something that I don’t like is that I’m alone. I need a pal or a romantic partner.

Do you miss your family? I do miss my family, but a male bear’s life is a lonely life. When bears are teenagers we're are expected to go out on our own and find our own territory. I was fortunate to have wandered into Princeton, which as everyone here knows, is a wonderful place to live.

Do you have any brothers and sisters at home? I have a sibling, but she's struck out on her own, I don't know where she and my mother are. 

Maybe you’ll run into them someday? You never know, that would be another surprise for Princeton, wouldn’t it.

What are your favorite local haunts? Well, bears do read and the Princeton Public Library is an amazing institution and a lot of fun. And Princeton University, because I do consider myself to be a smart bear and I like being around the wonderful students, faculty and staff. And I love the hospital, although I haven't actually made the trek across Route 1 yet. When I was wandering around Harris Road and Witherspoon Street, I was trying to figure out where the hospital got to. 

At the Savory Spice Shop, I learned what a ghost chili was. And the Bent Spoon is fantastic, bears love ice cream. 

We eat meat, but bears are mostly herbivores, so the Princeton Farmer's Market is a lot of fun. I also hung out in the cemetery, although I'm not sure why. The nice thing about Princeton is I can always find a tree to climb and that's great. 

Are you coming back to Princeton and if so, can you give us a heads up? Absolutely, I'll be back! I think the police might like it if I gave them a heads up, but I don't want anyone coming at me with a dart gun so I might have to surreptitious about when I return!

That was quite a chase around town on Tuesday, wasn't it? It was fun, but it was also serious, I sure don't want to get caught. I think if I get caught, I might be relocated to another part of the state and I really like Princeton!

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