We’re going on a bear hunt — Social distancing doesn’t have to mean staying indoors

Published 5:31 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

Laura Ann Walker doesn’t think twice when her three children leave the house to hunt bears these days.

After all, they’ve been cooped up together on spring days when they normally would be in class ever since the COVID-19 outbreak closed their schools.

The trio — Sadie, 13, Amory, 10, and Ethan, 7, — took off on their bikes from their Charles Street home Friday to comb the Vernondale neighborhood for bears — the stuffed toy kind.

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As Brookhaven families are following social distancing guidelines recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention experts to curb the spread of coronavirus, these “bear hunts” are becoming the rage in areas like Vernondale, where homeowners are placing teddy bears and other stuffed animals in their windows to create an activity for children and their parents.

While taking walks or drives around the neighborhood, families can have some fun by keeping an eye out for any number of stuffed animals that have been put on display at other houses, she said.

Walker, a seventh-grade teacher at Alexander Junior High, stole the idea from other teachers on social media and posted a suggestion on the Vernondale Neighborhood Watch Facebook page Wednesday. The Walkers have a stuffed bunny in their window. A friend has a stuffed camel. Brookhaven Alderwoman-At-Large Karen Sullivan filled her two upstairs windows with stuffed bears.

“I think it’s great. I think it gets more people out walking and riding bicycles, while maintaining the recommended distance from other people,” she said. “I really appreciate the way Brookhaven citizens are following the CDC guidelines.”

The idea of the scavenger hunt-type game is from Michael Rosen’s 1989 children’s book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

In some areas of the country, neighborhoods are switching it up to a safari-themed animal hunt, but the idea is the same — the group activity gives neighbors a greater sense of community. It’s a symbolic way to say we’re all in this together, Walker said.

The Daily Leader is looking for acts of kindness or compassion in our community to ease the stress caused by coronavirus. If you see something, let us know at news@dailyleader.com.