Empty neighborhood streets might be a dour scene for parents walking with their kids, but some communities in the Inland Empire are looking to brighten the stroll with a teddy bear scavenger hunt.
Families involved in the "bear hunt" place the toys in their windows, porches and other spots visible from the street, turning a passerby’s stroll into a game that can be played at a social distance.
In one Riverside neighborhood near Sierra Middle School, 9-year-old Londyn Nava said she had counted 300 bears so far, even adding her own to peek out from her house.
"It makes me feel so happy to see people looking in our windows to see [the bears]," she said. "It makes me have some joy."
Her neighbor Angela Friedman helped introduce the practice after realizing how much her 1-year-old enjoyed watching people pass by their window.
"My daughter will actually stand next to it so the kids will wave to her," she said.
"It’s almost like a magical adventure for them to walk around a block they’ve seen a hundred times, but to go on a hunt this time."
Communities across Southern California and the United States are holding their own "bear hunts," with schools, cities and libraries suggesting the activity to families.
The activity is said to be inspired by children’s book "We’re Going on a Bear Hunt," written by British author Michael Rosen.
Residents aren’t just hiding teddy bears. Families in Canyon Crest, for example, are drawing rainbows on the sidewalk, giving their neighbors something to explore while social distancing. With Easter approaching, some may even put up eggs for children to spot.
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But for Julie Quincena, 4, the original scavenger hunt holds a special place.
"I really like bears that are here," she said. "I really love them on the windows."