Social distancing can make it hard to plan a teddy bear picnic.
But even a bear of very little brain can sit on a windowsill and wait to be spotted by the intrepid young bear hunters of Douglas County.
Some county residents have been placing bears in their windows for children to find. It’s part of a growing Goin’ on a Bear Hunt movement in communities around the country.
With children out of school and spending lots of time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be hard for parents to find fun activities to occupy their time.
English teacher April Bauguess said she hopes giving kids the chance to spot the 4-foot-tall stuffed panda bear standing in her window will help.
Bauguess, who teaches 10th grade English online for Oregon Connections Academy, said she and her husband Drew Bauguess are both panda fans.
“We love pandas in this house. I don’t know what it is exactly, it’s just a thing that we have. We even have matching panda hats. I don’t know, it’s just one of those nerdy things, like an inside thing,” she said.
Bauguess put her bear up this week and said she hopes lots of community members will put bears in their windows, too.
“This is such a little easy thing to do, especially for young children who just had their sense of normalcy taken away. To have such a little thing to do to bring joy into people’s lives, why not add that little spark into people’s lives,” she said.
Becca Todd of Roseburg put a bear in the window this week that’s covered with sequins that change color from pink to red, depending on which direction you rub them. The next day she visited Eastwood Elementary School, where Chromebook laptop computers were being distributed to students, and saw bears in two windows on the way.
“We saw two bears and that was really exciting, and we honked so the kids are like completely excited to go count bears now,” she said.
Her 4-year-old twin stepchildren were especially thrilled. But she wants to see more.
“I’m thinking I’ll have to, I don’t know, maybe contact my neighbors or something and tell them all to put bears in their windows because two is not going to cut it,” she said.
“Everybody put out your bears. It’s special, and after the second bear I saw today I shed a tear, you know. It’s community, it’s everybody looking out for each other. And they put a smile on my kids’ face,” she said.
Andrea Mcann stuck her 9-year-old daughter Kendall Mcann’s gray teddy bear with pink hearts in the window of their Myrtle Creek home about a week ago. She planned to search her house for more bears to beef up the window display.
She said a couple days after putting up Kendall’s bear, she drove around town looking for bears in other people’s windows. She only counted three. But her kids were peeled to the windows, looking for more.
It’s like an Easter Egg hunt, she said.
“We really just need something happy, especially the kids,” she said.
Erin Graham of Green filled her home with red, white and blue hearts that shape the word “HOPE,” and a larger heart. And she placed a bear in the window, too.
Graham said she was inspired both by the Bear Hunt and a Heart Hunters group on Facebook, one of whose members had used red, white and blue hearts to make a flag in her window.
She’d been laid off from her restaurant management job and found herself with plenty of time on her hands.
“I spent the next two days cutting out red, white and blue hearts by hand to fill my window,” Graham said. She also placed a teddy bear in the window, and a Rex the Surf Dog toy, who was created by a teacher in Hawaii as part of a children’s literacy campaign.
“I have yet to notice anyone’s reaction to my display but whether or not I witness it, as long as it makes someone smile then I have succeeded in my mission,” she said.