Window art scavenger hunt provides safe neighborhood-wide activity

Facebook group organizes projects to keep people connected

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By Maria Maxham

Silly faces appeared in the windows of houses around Forest Park on March 20, part of a neighborhood-wide artistic scavenger hunt to keep kids entertained. For St. Patrick's Day, it was shamrocks.

Forest Park parents have organized one way for kids to stay creative and active while feeling connected to the community in this time of social distancing. Play dates are considered a no-go with the goal of preventing the spread of coronavirus, but a small idea has grown into a neighborhood-wide outdoor scavenger hunt.

For St. Patrick's Day, word went out that people were putting shamrocks in their front windows. Families went on walks through the neighborhood to see how many they could spot.

In a Facebook group called Forest Park Neighborhood Window Walk, the "schedule" for the window decorations is posted. It includes silly faces on March 20, animals on March 23, encouraging words on March 26, flowers on March 29, jokes on April 1, and Easter eggs on April 4.

Forest Parker Jaymi Raad started the Facebook group because she wanted to find a way to get people together – without getting them physically together.

"I saw the picture in multiple places with the idea for a different picture each day and heard how much people appreciated getting out of the house and seeing friends and neighbors, from a safe distance," said Raad. "I think there's a real risk to our mental health being so isolated right now, and this idea seemed like a good way to combat the emotional isolation, while also maintaining the precautions needed for our physical safety."

But she added that it's not just for kids. "Quarantined and/or elderly residents can put pictures in their windows, tell the group their address (or a clue), then wave to the kids as they find the pictures. Every little interaction can make such a difference for our mental health right now and I'd love for our community to reach out in any way that we safely can."

Her son Judah, age 9, is enjoying the experience. "I think it's good, and it's helping kids and adults of all ages get exercise," said Judah. "I also think it's a fun activity for all ages."

In addition to the window art, "Chalk Your Walk" is coming up on March 27 and 28. Residents are encouraged to "draw inspiring art or write encouraging messages" in front of their homes in sidewalk chalk.

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