$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County: Bear sightings on rise in Shawnee neighborhoods

Vicky O. Misa
Community Renewal of Pottawatomie County's We Care. Bear is visiting neighborhoods in Shawnee.

As Shawnee residents practice keeping their distance, neighbors are discovering a new hobby — bear hunting.

The bear hunt is an idea floating around the internet based on a campfire chant turned book by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen, Community Renewal Block Leader Coordinator Zoe Loeser said. Neighbors around the community are putting teddy bears in their windows so children and their guardians can walk through their neighborhoods on a bear hunt.

“With all the hard things happening in the world, the good can often be overlooked,” Loeser said. “One of Community Renewal's hopes is to support and celebrate the care that thrives in Shawnee and Pottawatomie County.”

The bear hunt is a microcosm of that hope, she said.

To support and celebrate the effort, Community Renewal decided to pitch in with its bear mascot from the We Care. Campus program, walking the bear through the neighborhoods to find new bear friends. “This celebrates the caring that is already happening in the neighborhood and supports more or continued participation in this communal activity,” she said.

The We Care. Bear will be making an appearance in a different neighborhood each Monday through Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m.

A few hours before the walk, Community Renewal will announce on Facebook which neighborhood it's walking through.

On an important social-distancing note, Community renewal offers a reminder, “To keep everyone and the We Care. Bear safe, please stay in your yard, car or window.”

With two walks under its belt, Loeser said the We Care. Bear has seen lots of love, including kiddos on the lawn with their own teddy bears, shouts of I love you from porches, and adults who've made u-turns in their cars to take pictures.

“Even in neighborhoods with rougher reputations, few people pass by the We Care. Bear without a smile and wave,” she said.

Community Renewal is encouraging everyone to stick a stuffed animal — be it bear, duck or mouse — in a window to support social distancing fun, Loeser said.

“It's a delight to be able to support and celebrate caring neighbors,” she said.

The community's zeal to aid parents and children in this time of stress with the joy of a teddy in the window only multiplies, she said.

In the spirit of Shawnee's branding effort, Great Things on the Horizon, Loeser said the motto is fitting.

“Something great's not just on the horizon in Shawnee,” she said. “The care we've seen in the last week — and the care we'll see in the weeks to come — sing loudly the song that something great is already here.”