Downtown Businesses Invite Children to Hunt for Bears during the Coronavirus Outbreak

With more people and families staying home due to school closures, layoffs, telework requirements and other impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, it was only a matter of time before new residents became interested in the areas once frequented by humans.

I guess we just thought it would take a little longer before bears and other wildlife began taking over the streets of Canby.

The stuffed critters, which have already begun to populate the bike racks, lamp poles, signs and storefronts of downtown Canby — with more expected this week — was the brainchild of Shannon Allee, of Hotrod Dreamworks, who says the idea is for people and families to try and spot as many as they can when they go out for a walk or drive.

“This is a small activity that I hope will strengthen the bond between customers and local businesses,” she explained.

The effort, which is also underway in many residential areas of Canby, is part of a global phenomenon. Described as a “a scavenger hunt suited for social distancing,” the “teddy bear game” is being played from Japan to Australia, and all across the United States.

Allee encourages local business owners to dress up their stuffed animals to fit what they do, like a mechanic, waiter or grocery store clerk. Those already on display include a graduate celebrating the Canby High School Class of 2020 and several essential workers: a bear doctor, sheep police officer and an adorable pug repping a Hotrod Dreamworks hat and T-shirt.

The bears can also hold a sign reminding people that their business is open or a note encouraging them to stay safe, Allee said. For businesses that are closed, the bear could be a friendly and hopeful reminder that they will soon be back.

“The bear is a message of hope, and I hope we will have bears put out all through Canby from downtown to 99E,” she said. “Let’s spread a little happiness in Canby!”

Allee thanked Canby Kiwanis, who donated more than two dozen teddy bears to the cause, and also did most of the heavy lifting on outfitting them with various costumes and props.

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