By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Neighbors throughout Oneonta have found a way to make quarantine bear-able for children who are stuck inside.
“I taught the book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ when I taught elementary school,” said Sue Ploutz. “And I saw a post on social media about putting teddy bears in the window so that when kids go on walks with their families, they can go on a ‘bear hunt.’”
Neighbors throughout the City of the Hills have started putting teddy bears in their front windows, encouraging children to count the number of bears they spot when they go out for a walk.
The Winnie the Pooh in the window of her 5 Sand St. home belongs to her son, Nicholas Woodcock, a resident of Springbrook who is staying at home with his parents as part of the COVID-19 isolation.
“It’s so fun to see the kids walk by,” she said. “They get a real kick out of spotting the bear – and the parents do too!”
It’s a trend in other neighborhoods as well.
“One of my fellow faculty members at Hartwick College takes her kid on bear hunts,” said Meghan Sheehy, assistant professor of Music Education, 21 Miller St. “Every True Blue weekend, we get to make our own teddy bears, so I made this one.”
“This guy’s been in a box for a couple of years,” added her husband, Ryan Ceresola, Sociology assistant professor. “It’s good for him to get out in the sunshine.”
And each bear tells a story. “I got this teddy bear for my wife on our first trip Upstate, when we still lived in New York City,” said Bill Kozlowski, 1 Walling Ave. “I think I got him at a diner – and now he lives here!”
It’s also a way for neighbors who are unable to go outside to continue to interact with their community.
“I knew this was one thing I could do to help,” said Regina Haren, 64 Spruce St. “It relieves fear, and it gives the kids some hope. And it feels good for me to do it.”
And it’s not just domestic teddy bears either – there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen.
“My daughter’s favorite stuffed animal growing up was a panda,” said Annemarie Hosnedl, 125 Oneida St. “I saw in Denmark that kids are doing a safari, people would put stuffed giraffes and other wild animals in their window, and I wanted to participate.”
“I always put out Percival ‘The Easter Pig’ ever year,” said Kathy Jones, 7 Ceperly Ave. “I know other families are also putting Easter eggs in their window so the kids can look for those too.”
In addition to bears, some neighbors are putting rainbows on their doors to entertain families and strengthen community spirit. “I have a couple of toddlers, so we colored rainbows,” said Abby Astor, 108 River St. “It’s a way to support the health care workers, to thank them for everything they’re doing.”
Once you see one bear – or rainbow, or Easter egg – you can’t help but look for more. “It’s like when you buy a new car, suddenly, you keep seeing that car everywhere,” said Ceresola. “If you’re looking for teddy bears, you’ll see them.”
And sometimes, those bears can be a little sneaky. “Every few days, someone will move the bear, or put a ribbon on it to switch it up,” said Haren. “So it’s something different for the kids to look for.”
But even teddy bears need their rest at the end of a long day. “Pooh is out here every day,” said Sue. “But at night, he goes to bed with Nicholas.”