Community invited to join in on teddy bear hunt

Photo from London Downtown Facebook page

Teddy bears from London Downtown are placed throughout London's downtown businesses.

TRI-COUNTY — Many residents throughout several communities in the Tri-County are on a bear hunt.

Thanks to the efforts of a group on Facebook, that can be found by searching #bearhunt, several Tri-Countians are placing teddy bears in the windows of their homes. The goal is to have families travel together in their vehicles and “hunt” for bears in their neighbors’ windows.

Crystal Fields, a native of London, who now lives in Corbin, helped organize the bear hunt throughout the Tri-County. She says she wanted to do something that helped children keep their minds off of everything going on in the world right now.

“I have worked in pediatrics for almost seven years,” she said. “I know these kids are struggling with the fear that is the corona[virus]. They are way more resilient than most adults, but I figured why not do something to get their minds off of it.”

Fields said the idea came to her after seeing someone in Missouri doing something similar, and because her daughters always enjoyed the song “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

The Facebook group #bearhunt has several pictures of residents all across the Tri-County sharing the bears they’ve hunted and of the bears they’ve placed in their windows, on their porches or in their yards.

Several businesses and organizations are participating in the bear hunt too. Wesley Shields of Knox County’s Sapling Center said the staff there became involved with the bear hunt after seeing a post on the Knox County Public Library’s page encouraging other businesses to take part in the hunt.

The Knox County Sapling Center is a youth drop-in center providing youths aged 14-25 mental health and community services. The center also provides transportations for its members as well.

“We have seen several [bears] while out for transport, so we know that some places are reaching out to join the hunt,” said Shields.

While the threat of COVID-19 has forced the staff at the Sapling Center to make changes including limiting the number of people in the center to 10 at a time, hourly sanitization of the facility, and checking the temperatures of folks before they enter the facility, Shields said that the bear hunt is an amazing idea as a way to show support throughout the community.

“It is showing that even in rough times that the spirit of the commonwealth is alive and well,” he said.

The City of Corbin shared information about the bear hunt on its Facebook page and has encouraged its residents to share in the fun as well.

“City Hall will have [two] bears in the front windows. Thanks to Police Chief Rusty Hedrick,” the city commented on its Facebook post.

London Downtown also shared teddy bears with downtown businesses who now have teddy bears placed in windows throughout the downtown community.

Thanks to the efforts of friends like Jessica Partin and Stacey Hixon, as well as her two daughters, Blake Bowling and Brooke Fields, Fields said she has seen pictures from the bear hunt reach as far as Ohio, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.

“Never did I expect to have such an amazing group of people joining in and being so creative,” she said. “I think people are enjoying this because it promotes social distancing as well as family bonding time. I have enjoyed it as much as anyone probably. We went all the way to Jamestown bear hunting over the weekend.”

Fields said she would like to invite everyone to join the bear hunt by placing a teddy bear in the windows of their home or on their property. She also invites everyone to share their family’s hunting adventures by joining the group on Facebook, and uploading pictures of their hunts.

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