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Agawam moms entertain kids with town-wide ‘bear hunt’

Date: 4/15/2020

AGAWAM – If you drove down the streets of Agawam on April 2, you were met with dozens of displays of stuffed bears in front of homes. Some bears were set up to appear as though they were camping, there was a group having a picnic and a few were even climbing trees.

Agawam resident and mom, Sherry Kardos Blzano, said for several years she’s been part of a group of moms planning activities for their children. The moms, she said, wanted to do something for the children in Agawam. “It really sort of came about as a ‘what can we do for these little ones,’” she said.

Prior to the bear hunt, she said the group planned a flower hunt for children around Agawam, but found a lot of the flowers couldn’t be seen from cars. The moms drew inspiration from bear hunts they saw happening around the country and in surrounding towns, like West Springfield.

The hunt, Kardos Bizano said, “blew up” and they “couldn’t keep up” with the amount of people wanting to put out displays for the bear hunt. She explained she “thought it would be like 50 houses,” however two days before the hunt there were at least 200 houses signed up to participate.

Kardos Bizano said the bear hunt  was designed so as families drove around neighborhoods they’d be able to search for stuffed bears displayed in various ways on lawns, porches, trees and even in windows. All houses participating in the route were added to a Google map with paw prints representing each of the displays.

Despite the hunt being designed with small children in mind, she said a significant portion of those who participated had children that were in their teens, or had no children at all.

“I would say at least half of the participants do not have children at all, or have children over the age of what you’d expect,” she said. “It kinda brought the town together.”

She said planning the hunt even helped give her something to look forward to. “This has been something to give me some fun. It’s been fun,” she said. Despite having children that were older, Kardos Bizano said her and the other moms were still planning on driving around and participating in the hunt.

While the majority of houses participating in the hunt were located in Agawam and Feeding Hills, she said there were a couple of homes in West Springfield participating in the hunt as well. Those who participated in the hunt, she said, were from all over Western Massachusetts. “[There were] a lot of responses coming from Westfield, West Springfield. The more the merrier,” she said.

The hunt took place from 12 to 6 p.m. to allow everyone, including health care workers to participate. “There’s a bunch of nurses with families that are participating. We wanted to allow everyone,” she explained.

Kardos Bizano said the group was also looking into doing a virtual Easter egg hunt, similar to the bear hunt. In addition to providing entertainment for children in the community, she said safety was a priority during the activities. “Right now, the key is safety. You can put the kids in the car, drive around and waste a couple of hours,” she said.