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Reminder: Okotoks teddy bears put a twist on annual event

A Teddy Bear Hunt will take the place of the annual picnic on July 9, with agency displays throughout town.
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Blake Ehman plays in a pile of teddy bears during the 2019 Teddy Bear Picnic. This year's event will be a Teddy Bear Hunt, with agency displays throughout town. (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel)

Teddy bears won’t get to picnic together this year, but there’s still a way for them to get out for some physically-distanced fun.

The annual Teddy Bear Picnic, which usually sees around 500 to 700 residents come out to visit service and agency booths with their favourite stuffed friends, will be taking on a new format in 2020 due to COVID-19 - the Teddy Bear Hunt.

“It is going to look a little different this year,” said Sherri Mullen, specialist with the Okotoks Family Resource Centre. “Teddy bears can’t get together because of physical distancing, so they’re going to be having adventures all over town instead.”

More than 20 family services or agencies will be setting up displays July 9 with their teddy bears and other stuffies, and they’ll be on-hand to answer parents’ questions and have some distanced fun with children from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A Teddy Bear Hunt will be available on the Town of Okotoks website and can be printed for families to have a hard copy, or copies will also be available at the Okotoks Family Resource Centre display, which will open at 9 a.m. at the Okotoks Recreation Centre.

The bears are located around the rec centre, in the Crystal Ridge area, downtown, and in Cimarron.

“We want families to have fun together and create memories together,” said Mullen.

She said the second goal of the event is to connect families or individuals with some of the services they may need.

Service providers are excited for the opportunity to reach out to families even though the traditional picnic is off the table, she said.

“People are looking at it as a great opportunity to, in this time when we don’t have this connection very well, just to be able to make that connection with families,” said Mullen. “We hope people will come out, view the bears, ask questions, meet staff.”

To keep everyone safe, participants are reminded to practice physical distancing, and there will be precautions in place at different sites like hand-sanitizing stations and limited hand-out materials.

Two prizes are up for grabs during the Teddy Bear Hunt, said Mullen. Participants can take photos of their favourite displays and follow instructions on the Town of Okotoks website to upload them, and two winners will be chosen at random to win day-passes to Kayben Farms Sunshine Adventure Park.

The Teddy Bear Hunt is not just for young children.

“One of our vendors this year is the Adult Day Program through Alberta Health Services, they set up some grandparent bears reading to their kids, so they’re encouraging any seniors who would like to do this as an activity to do it as well,” said Mullen. “I think it could be fun for a variety of groups.”

Krista Conrad, OkotoksToday.ca

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Krista Conrad

About the Author: Krista Conrad

Krista Conrad is the news reporter for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper covering Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips contact kconrad@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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