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Spencer residents hunt for happiness during virus shutdown

Spencer residents hunt for happiness during virus shutdown Spencer residents hunt for happiness during virus shutdown

With warmer weather around the corner and Governor Tony Evers’ “Safer at Home” order keeping individuals and families indoors, people are beginning to get eager to go outside and do some outdoor activities. And while the order does allow people to leave their homes to maintain their physical health, places such as playgrounds are closed to the public and people are asked to social distance in order to keep the general population healthy.

Despite these constraints, in Spencer the community is finding a way to not only stay connected while maintaing social distancing requirements, but also provide a unique activity to keep minds occupied. Through two different campaigns, the Happy Heart Hunt and the Bear Hunt, people both young and old, indoors and outdoors, are making the most of an unusual time.

“It’s kind of a fun thing to do,” said Patricia Fuchs, who had placed a bear dressed in a Green Bay Packers shirt and an American Flag in her window. “It will take a while to get out of this.”

The two hunting activities that have begun to spread around the village of Spencer over the past few weeks came to the community in slightly different ways, but have since become a combined show of support and a source of fun for those taking a walk around the block. First appearing in a southern Wisconsin town, the Happy Heart Hunt has spread from its origins on Facebook into a worldwide phenomena.

“I had seen it on Facebook. There were really funny ones, angels, fish, any number of things on doors and windows,” said Ellen Stanley, who works at Partner’s Bank in Spencer. There, she and 10 other employees constructed a large American flag out of hearts for people to see driving by.

“It was just a matter of just the right time and the right message,” added Bev Roehl, another employee who came up with the idea of creating the flag. “It felt right, and it’s what people needed to see, hope.”

As for the bears popping up in people’s windows, that idea came from a local citizen who passed it on to members of the Spencer Village Board to share.

“A village resident sent it to us,” said village Deputy Clerk Deb Schafer. “We then put it on our Facebook page.”

So far, at least a dozen homes and businesses within the village have taken it upon themselves to bring some cheer to their neighbors and others passing by their homes on a daily basis. Armed with little more than an idea, each resident who has decided to participate has put their own flair on their display. “I guess I just wanted to add some cheer during this dreary time,” said Pamela Kolb, a Madison resident who has been staying with her parents in Spencer during the pandemic. In their window, several bears can be seen sitting in a line, waiting for the next group to come by and spot them.

“I decided to put them up just because we have a lot of bears at our house,” Kolb said. “We always would joke that my mother looks like a bear and have gotten lot of bears over the years. So we decided to put them in the windows.”

“I had heard about the hearts first,” said Charla Hagen, another Spencer resident. At her home, she has a display made of paper hearts and bears.

“I thought it was nice to do,” she said. “When I got started on the hearts, I heard that the village put on a

“I have seen so many people walk by. Some of them I have never seen before. Families are walking by with their dogs and kids. They’re out looking for some cheer.” -- Spencer resident Patricia Fuchs


CHEYENNE THOMAS/STAFF PHOTO bear hunt so I decided to put them together, but I didn’t have a stuffed bear. So I Googled a bear picture and printed it off. It was pretty simple, it only took a few minutes.”

For only a few minutes of work, these residents are bringing days of fun searching for others moving around the village. Since this all began, several residents who have put bears or hearts in their windows said there has been an increase in walkers as people try to find ways to still enjoy the outdoors.

“I have seen so many people walk by,” said Fuchs. “Some of them I have never seen before. Families are walking by with their dogs and kids. They’re out looking for some cheer.”

“We have a lot of people walking,” added Hagen. “I noticed people walking by just a few moments after we put out our display. I hope people will notice, we have a lot of people walking by.”

Although no one knows yet when or how the Stay at Home order will end, the Spencer residents participating in the hunts said they expect to keep their displays up for at least a few more weeks. For Dona Lucht, who has placed her Coca Cola bear in her window each day, it’s what needs to be done to keep things somewhat normal.

“I said to myself, I will leave the bear out until the first of May, and hope and pray that things will get back organized in this crazy world,” she said.

Local window displays for the ongoing bear and heart hunts include one with both elements (above); another in Spencer with a teddy bear peeking through a window (at right); a pretty bear (below) waiting to be found; and positive messages from students in windows at St. Anthony Catholic School in Loyal.