Emergency runs change during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Mary Helen Darah

Alison Mihaly and her family have been spreading sunshine and happiness instead of germs and fear. Mihaly and her family live in Old Orchard but countless people from the area have been enjoying the family’s “Quarantine Bears.” Like many neighborhoods, residents were asked to place bears in their windows so kids could have a bit of lighthearted fun during the cancellation of schools, sporting events and family activities. The Mihaly family took their bear display to a whole new level.

“We decided to step things up,” stated Mihaly. “We have four kids ages 21-28. As a family, we would brainstorm ideas. Thankfully, I quickly came to the realization that I never throw anything out. We had a great deal of materials to work with. I still had the kids swim team and dance attire which were perfect for our bears. My husband Jim was given the role of ‘head carrier’ for the big stuff for the displays.”
The family created 38 displays during quarantine. If the weather made it impossible for the bears to be outside, they created indoor scenes that were shared on social media venues. Inside the bears made cookies, cleaned the house, made a blanket fort and played board games. On nice days, when the bears were outside doing an assortment of activities, the family received a great deal of foot traffic. “It was like a parade,” stated Mihaly. “ Little ones would love to take their photos with the bears. My husband loved talking to everyone that came by.”
The family decided that they would only display positiveness. “We wanted absolutely no Covid stuff,” Mahaly said. “We posed the bears in family-friendly activities that people couldn’t do because of the lockdown, such as soccer practice, camping and swim meets. Every bear theme had to pass the family-friendly test. It also had to be something that a four-year-old would get.”
The bears wrapped things up and said goodbye as they headed up north for the summer. “It was time for them to get some fun and sun,” said Mihaly. “We had a blast doing it and the comments we received were so sweet. We were so surprised with the broad range of ages who became attached to them. We loved being a bright spot for people during these tough times.”

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