Coronavirus: ‘Bear hunts’ organized by Boston, other cities to keep kids entertained while out of school

Coronavirus: ‘Bear hunts’ organized by Boston, other cities to keep kids entertained while out of school
Residents of several communities have come up with a fun way to keep kids entertained while school is out -- "bear hunts."

Cities and towns such as Boston, Walpole, Haverhill, Leominster and others have organized “bear hunts,” where residents place teddy bears in their windows so kids can drive or walk around spotting the bears.

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“As we take our daily walks, we look at everybody’s windows to see if we can find a teddy bear,” said Candida Shepard, a mother.

Shepard’s 4-year-old twins, Payton and Ayden, have taken up the fun activity in their Hyde Park neighborhood as more neighbors join in on the fun.

“We saw the teddies in the window,” said Payton.

The “bear hunts” are inspired by a children’s book, and residents can add their streets to a map on social media that parents use to trace the route they will take their kids on walks or drives, looking - at a safe distance - for the bears displayed in the windows.

“It’s something nice to chime in about rather than something dismal, which is going on right now,” said Mary Francis, who put a teddy bear in her window.

The Shepard twins’ grandmother placed teddy bears in her window, enjoying the cheer they bring to the youngest neighbors who have been home from school and stuck in the house.

“People are actually walking by with a big smile on their face,” said Francis.

Kids and adults alike are entertained and uplifted by the sight of the bears in the windows, a heartwarming illustration of how communities are doing everything they can to take care of each other. As volunteers step up to produce masks and donate supplies to medical workers, initiatives like the bear hunt aim to help keep people’s mental health strong. Something as simple as a teddy bear on a windowsill can be the light in someone’s day.

As the twins write encouraging messages for others to stay hopeful during a scary time with their mom, a health care worker, they’re also thinking of their family in Italy. The country has been hit the hardest by the virus, where the outbreak has been the most rampant.

“Stay safe from the ‘Canola’ virus,” Ayden wrote.

If you want to participate, just search in your local community’s Facebook group to find a bear hunt near you.