Rehoboth Beach has served as a premier gay destination for decades, and the creation of a Bear Weekend was not originated here. In fact, Rehoboth has served as a bear community meet-up destination for some time!
But in 2014, a small group of guys got together and thought, “Hey…wouldn’t it be great to have a weekend Bear Run in Rehoboth? Wouldn’t it be neat to show everyone else what we love about this town? Wouldn’t it be great to build an event that helped support businesses off-season? Wouldn’t it be great to build a network of community members looking to help support efforts for overall societal betterment? And so we did.
After the overwhelming success of the first Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend, it was clear the idea had grown interest beyond its first incarnation. All attendees were surveyed and a number of things became immediately clear. First, a good time was had by all so this couldn’t just be a one-and-done type event. And second, we could not run this type of event as an informal entity.
Having determined the future demand for this type of event, and making the commitment to a mission of “providing inclusive fellowship and fraternal opportunities while raising money for charities whose missions provide for community betterment”, the small group of founders formalized the non-profit 501(c)3, Rehoboth Beach Bears, Inc., in 2016.
Since our first Bear Weekend in 2015, our annual Bear Weekends have welcomed over 1,000 members of the Bear community and beyond to Rehoboth; generated over $200,000 in economic development for the greater Rehoboth area; logged over 2,000 volunteer hours; enabled us to make over $15,000 in benevolent gifts; and allowed us to double our charitable giving each year.
The community’s early support for Bears mission helped paved the way for new, different and underserved outlets for its benevolent gifts. In 2017, the Bears introduced a scholarship fund to benefit members of the Cape Henlopen High School Gay Straight Alliance. In the last two years, $5,000 has been awarded to graduating seniors seeking to further their education.
Our fledgling years have exceeded our expectations and we look forward to continuing to build a strong, reputable, transparent and inclusive organization committed to improving the community in which we live and love.