A bear sits on the porch at a home on Irene in Covington Monday morning. Photo by Stephanie Glass

In Covington, teddy bears started popping up in windows and on porches Monday morning.

As part of what’s being called a bear hunt, driving or walking around to spot the bears is one way neighbors are still connecting with one another during a time of social distancing.

“It’s a diversion for all ages,” said Nan Witherington Lindsey, who started the local effort. “I had not heard of it before. I read a post this morning on Facebook that a friend in Lauderdale County had written. It sounded like fun … like something I would have enjoyed doing with my own kids when they were young! Plus it seemed like a great diversion for all of the gloom and doom in the news!”

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Though bears are being used in Covington and in Bartlett, some neighborhoods are using Easter eggs or rainbows.

By early Monday afternoon, the number of bears to be found in the city’s bear hunt was increasing. Most of them could be found in the historic district, in the heart of Covington, but the idea started catching on all over Tipton County.

Thirteen-year-old Madison Parks, who lives in Atoka, is taking it a bit further by dressing the family’s bear up differently.

On Tuesday the giant bear, which actually belongs to her one-year-old brother, wore a basketball jersey with a sign suggesting “the best defense is a good offense clean hands!”

Madison Parks, 13, decorates the family’s bear with a new theme every day.

Wednesday, she outdid herself, dressing the bear in a robe, adding curlers to its head and using part of two plastic forks as eyelashes. The bear had a cup of coffee and seemed to be chatting on the phone. The sign in front of it read, “Girrrl … if someone don’t come get deez kids!”

It resonated well with the overwhelmed mothers feeling the pains of an extended school closure and received nearly 400 reactions in the 901 Bears Facebook group, created by Brighton senior Garrett Webb, just for the bear hunts.

Madison plans to continue coming up with themes, said her mother, nurse Valerie Parks.

“She already has a request from her little brother for tomorrow, and she will be 100 percent on her own because I have to go to work tonight.  She says that she does plan to continue dressing it up for awhile.”

Madison’s bear can be seen on Elizabeth Drive in Atoka.

The community-wide bear hunt is just a little something that’s brought the community together during an uncertain time.

“Neighborhoods, rally the troops and do this for the children and adults,” posted kindergarten teacher Janice Smith. “It’s good for your mind and body!”