Legendary Lake Ice Bear returns, welcoming summertime visitors to Tomahawk

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

TOMAHAWK – A Tomahawk icon has returned and is ready to welcome summertime visitors to the Northwoods.

City of Tomahawk employees recently took the short boat ride on Sawdy Pond to place the Lake Ice Bear, also known as the Hamm’s Bear, in the water, where it will greet those passing by on N. 4th St. throughout the summer.

The legendary bear has Tomahawk ties dating back more than six decades.

Originally used as a Hamm’s beer advertising display at Leon and Florence Weizenicker’s Lake Ice business, George Weizenicker suggested that the bear be mounted on an inner tube. Running with the idea, Leon also added a fishing pole and a can of Hamm’s beer, and the bear was floated in Sawdy Pond next to the Lake Ice establishment, quickly becoming a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.

The Lake Ice Bear could be seen in the water each year from approximately 1958 to 1979.

Following the sale of the Lake Ice business, the Hamm’s Bear became the property of former Tomahawk Leader publishers Larry and Kathy Tobin, who donated it to Tomahawk Fishing Unlimited in 1999.

The bear made appearances in many of Tomahawk’s annual 4th of July parades before being gifted to the Tomahawk Area Historical Society in 2018.

In 2019, a replica of the Lake Ice Bear, donated by Dave and Shane Mayer of Aquatic Arts and Wildlife Taxidermy, was placed on Sawdy Pond, breathing new life into the popular attraction of years past and marking the beginning of summer in Tomahawk.

Today, a bench dedicated in memory of Leon and Florence Weizenicker and placed along the sidewalk near Sawdy Pond provides a fantastic view of the legendary bear, and a sign donated by Daigle Brothers Inc. offers the history of the Tomahawk icon.

Photos by Jalen Maki.
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