Coronavirus: ‘Bear Hunts’ have made their way into Dayton neighborhoods

A bear spotted in the Dayton-area as a part of the Bear Hunt craze. CONTRIBUTED

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A bear spotted in the Dayton-area as a part of the Bear Hunt craze. CONTRIBUTED

Social distancing and the stay-at-home order can have some people feeling a little out of sorts, however, recently seeing stuffed bears in neighborhood windows should be no cause for alarm.

“Teddy Bear Hunts” are happening around the globe in communities impacted by COVID-19.

The hunts are inspired by Michael Rosen's 1989 children's book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," which opens with the lines, "We're going on a bear hunt/We're going to catch a big one/What a beautiful day!/We're not scared," according to a USA TODAY report.

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The game depends on neighbors getting creative and posing a bear in their window or door. Families with small children are then encouraged to look for the bears as a sort of social-distancing-safe scavenger hunt.

“He’s 2, so at first he was just saying, ‘house, house, house,’” said Amy Kronberg, who takes her son Grayson on walks through their Madison’s Grant subdivision in Kettering. “Then he started to notice the bears in the windows and he would get so excited. He’d be like ‘Bear! Bear!’”

Many neighborhood Facebook groups and NextDoor app groups are planting the seed for people to participate.

Kronberg and her son Grayson successfully “hunted” about 20 bears the next day after it was posted to the neighborhood’s Facebook.

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“I think we’ve seen more neighbors out in the last two weeks than we have since we moved into our house in 2014,” Kronberg said. “It’s been a great way to connect with neighbors we haven’t met before and realize how many people have young children that we didn’t know before.”

The Madison’s Grant neighborhood’s tradition of an annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt fell to the wayside a couple years ago. But the same spirit has been re-energized by the Bear Hunt, and this year neighbors have decided to once again organize an Easter egg hunt using the social-distancing-safe model.

“I decided to participate because I feel bad for the kiddos not being able to do much with the shelter in place order,” said Laura Loges, a Washington Township resident. “Plus the parents are probably losing it too.”

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Loges’ bear of choice, and fitting to situation, is a “Heart” Care Bear.

“I had two Care Bears that my twins had — my twin sons are now almost 34 years old!” Loges said. “I chose this one because the Bear Hunt organizers were saying if people didn’t have any stuffed bears, maybe they could hang a heart in the window so the kiddos know they’re caring/thinking about them and the situation. This bear kills two birds with one stone. It’s perfect.”

Adding on to the benefit of getting Grayson out of the house with a fun activity, Kronberg said Bear Hunts have helped her two-year-old engage.

“We have two very large dogs so we go on walks through the neighborhood all the time,” Kronberg said. “This was the first time that he was really engaged in like looking at things on the houses as opposed to just sitting in his stroller, eating his snacks and playing with his toys.”

Could Bear Hunts be a new neighborhood past time — even after the coronavirus pandemic is over?

Happy hunting!

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