Going on a bear hunt: We’re not afraid

Photo by Tony Kukulich

In an effort to bring joy to others during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, several residents have placed teddy bears in windows as something fun for kids to find while out on a walk.

Little ones in Brentwood are on a bear hunt, and they need more neighbors to join the effort.

Homes throughout town are placing stuffed animals in windows for children and their parents to find while out on a walk in what has became a bear scavenger hunt. Brentwood resident Julie Bretz was one of the first influencers to bring the activity to her neighborhood, and while she said the idea was not originally her own, as both a retired Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District teacher of 39 years and someone who walks for an hour each day, she loved the concept.

“I put a bear in the window, got a piece of printer paper and wrote ‘Teddy says hi’ to put in the window alongside the bear,” she said.

Then, in a Nextdoor social-media post, she called on her community to do the same.

“I said let’s make walking fun and make it a teddy bear scavenger hunt for little ones,” she said of her original post. “Let’s put some light in our lives during this dark time.”

Neighbors soon replied.

“Such a great idea! My kids and I will be on the lookout during our afternoon walks,” wrote resident Katie Jenkins. “We’ll be sure to put as many teddy bears we can find in our windows as well!”

Others responded in turn, some noting they would put the toys in their car windows as well for better viewing, while others had questions about stuffed animal species.

“One friend asked, ‘Can I use a chicken?’” Bretz said, laughing. “I said, ‘Of course.’”

Bretz has been going on a bear (or chicken) hunt herself each day as she walks. While out, she’s been happy to see mothers with strollers stopping to point out houses, but she said the number of animals available to spy in her Valley Green neighborhood near Immaculate Heart Catholic Church could use some improvement. She hopes to see more participation in the days to come in order to make the game more fun.

In all of this, Bretz observed one positive aspect of sheltering in place was seeing more parents outside doing things with their children.

“That could be a silver lining in this gloom,” she said.