Bear hunts are in full force in the streets of Victoria and surrounding towns.

Families are displaying stuffed bears and a menagerie of other animals in their windows and yards to make walks and drives around local neighborhoods more interesting for children. The hunting expeditions help deal with the isolation that comes with social distancing during coronavirus.

The activity also provides a way for neighbors to show solidarity while maintaining distance, and it is happening in neighborhoods around the world.

Tiffany and Aaron Corbell and their three children, Adalyn, 4, Brooklyn, 2, and Reagan, 4 weeks, are on the hunt in the Victoria Country Club subdivision.

“First, the weather has been nice, fortunately. It’s a blessing in all this that it’s been enjoyable, sunny and breezy,” Tiffany Corbell said.

The walks in the afternoons help the children burn off energy, and the bear hunts help them take their minds off the disruption to their daily routines. Although they do not understand coronavirus, they recognize their lives are different, Corbell said. The family also takes car rides, but the kids do not enjoy staying in their car seats.

The hunts are inspired by the book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” by Michael Rosen, Corbell said. The Corbells sing songs and engage in conversation on their walks around the neighborhood, and they forget for a moment what is happening in the world. They have come across not only cuddly bears of all colors and sizes but also friendly characters such as Mickey Mouse.

“They (the children) do have fun with it,” Corbell said. “It gives them something to look forward to – a purpose for our walk. It gives them something to smile about.”

Megan Crane, also a Victoria Country Club resident, is a mother of two young children ages 4 and 6.

“The kids get very excited when they spot a bear,” she said.

She said it’s nice to have something different to do with the children at this time when nobody knows when things will return to normal.

“It’s a time to come together with neighbors. ... You see them outside and stop and chat from a distance,” Crane said. “It’s a great way to get neighbors of all ages involved. It started with the younger group and has expanded to include neighbors whose kids are too old for bear hunts.”

In Old Victoria, children also are spotting bears on their outdoor excursions. Unicorns, a giant rabbit, a peacock and a pink monkey are among the other stuffed species.

“I heard about it and thought it was a sweet thing to do,” said Cally Fromme, another Victoria Country Club resident who has a white bear in her yard. “Parents and children are going nuts with cabin fever and this brings some joy to the monotony.”

Fromme said she has noticed more neighbors outside walking around Victoria Country Club than usual.

“I see families I’ve never seen before with their children walking and in strollers,” Fromme said. “They have to get out, and if I can add to that activity, why not?”

Fromme said she has heard about families getting creative with the activity. The children use “bear”-noculars made of cardboard toilet paper tubes to spot the animals, and some neighborhoods have even come up with custom bingo games.

“It’s a feel-good story, and people are tired of bad news,” Fromme said. “Maybe this will entice more people to participate.”

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Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate.

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Tara Urban

Legit question: Is this something that we will be allowed to do with the new stay home-stay safe orders? I read the full order and could not determine if we are still allowed to go on walks if we maintain the 6 foot rule.

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