A 300-pound bear almost stole the show at a wedding on the Western Slope last weekend.
"The wedding was so beautiful, then the surprise," said mother of the bride Marianne Schmalz. "While we were enjoying ourselves at dinner, we looked out across the river and saw the bear."
Schmalz' daughter, Anna, and Neal Erickson of Denver got married at Ridgway State Park because Anna's grandmother lives in the area.
As Neal was setting up for the wedding, a ranger warned him that a bear had been spotted the evening before, but across the river.
Neal and Anna married at the Visitor's Center overlook. Then the wedding party went to a nearby pavilion for the reception and dinner.
Suddenly, the bear appeared across the river.
"You could see that bear clearly," Marianne Schmalz said.
Minutes later, the bear was on its way to the wedding.
"He came across the river, across the bridge and came closer to us," Marianne said. "He even came into the parking lot."
A ranger who works at another park happened to be a guest at the wedding. He called for backup and other rangers came, Marianne Schmalz explained.
The rangers used bean bags to scare the bear away then suggested it was time for the wedding guests to leave.
Marianne Schmalz said the rangers estimated the bear was 3 years old, about 300 pounds and could travel at 30 miles per hour.
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