Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hunting for teddy bears March 31, 2020

The 30th anniversary edition of Michael Rosen’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, published in 2019.


WE’RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT. We’re going to catch a big one.

Those words from the 1989 children’s picture book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, are inspiring the latest global movement unifying the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teddy Bear Hunts.

Worldwide, families are searching for teddy bears in windows during walks about their neighborhoods and communities. Minnesota Public Radio reports in its March 30 Daily Dose of Sweetness series that Rochester, home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, is already heavily involved in the Teddy Bear Hunts. My friend Jackie, a nurse at Mayo, confirms that.


A teddy bear sighting in the window of a house at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Division Street in Faribault.


Here in Faribault, I haven’t searched much for bears, only watched for them while out and about on Saturday to pick up groceries and to later walk a city trail. Randy spotted one bear, in a house window at the corner of Division Street and Fourth Avenue.


A close-up of the Fourth Avenue teddy bear with a cross above it.


I find these hunts a great idea to distract kids, and grown-ups, from the scary realities of the current health crisis. Shifting our focus onto something fun seems vital to our mental health. I often wonder how much our kids are picking up on our concerns, on the seriousness of the situation. When I asked my eldest awhile ago what she’s told her 4-year-old about COVID-19, my daughter said only that “a lot of people are sick.” Isabelle can understand that. I’m thankful my grandson, at a year old, is too young to comprehend any of this.

For us grown-ups, movements like Teddy Bear Hunts help us cope by shifting our attention to engaging the youngest among us. Kids have always held that ability to refocus our minds, to make us smile, to remind us of life’s simple joys. Like reading a book and going on a bear hunt in the middle of a global pandemic.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Hunting for teddy bears”

  1. Remember what we all did to cope with 911? I made hundreds of bead flag pins and red/white/blue ribbons to wear. It helps the mind and soul to see initiatives like this. It is world wide! I have a Teddy Bear spotted in my neighborhood and a heart TShirt. Amazing how fast something like this catches on with social media.

  2. We are all finding new ways to keep our sanity during this time. I love the bear idea —we don’t live in a place that is easily walkable and seen from the road so this isn’t something I am doing but they are in town. I love that people are trying to come together and share hearts and bears, don’t you?

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    We have our little Blue and Oaty, a kangaroo and babe, in the window. I checked and it was ok to put stuffed animals other than bears. 😉

  4. Gunny Says:

    I “hunt” Teddy bears year round. I try to find the most cuddly, soft and huggable ones I can get. One of the groups I am in, purchase, collect and distribute these bears to Law Enforcement agencies for when they come upon a child in distress.

  5. Missy’s Crafty Mess/Missy’s Handarbeid Says:

    I was wondering how these bears in windows got started. Thank you for sharing!

  6. norma Says:

    I had some adorable bears, but on my last move, I’m not sure where they went. I hope they were donated to the Salvation Army by my movers. “My children” I only saw it on the morning news, and found out that there are bears in windows here in Bakersfield. One thing the school teachers here are doing, is driving through the neighborhoods where their students live, and waving and blowing their horns and having regular parades for their students. Love it!!!

  7. Missy’s Crafty Mess/Missy’s Handarbeid Says:

    I just saw this idea on Facebook! It’s worth sharing

  8. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Yes indeed the bear hunt is alive and thriving in Rochester. My grandson told me he counted 56 on one of their walks in the neighborhood.

  9. Walter Says:

    Well done. Anything that adds a smile and sends our humor up, be welcome.

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