The Journal Gazette
Sunday, March 29, 2020 7:10 pm

Displays uniting neighborhood

Wildwood Park residents put up bears, hearts

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Homemade hearts and teddy bears are appearing behind window panes and on front doors in historic Wildwood Park.

Saginaw Drive resident Laura Smith-Eckstein said she posted the idea on Nextdoor, an online neighborhood networking site. She said Saturday she proposed displays of heart shapes to show “the spirit of we're all in this together.” 

Neighborhood solidarity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting stay-at-home advisory from Gov. Eric Holcomb is  extending to the neighborly wave at 7 p.m. each day in Wildwood Park.

Meg Underwood, who lives along North Washington Road, had no trouble finding a teddy bear to put on her front door. It was Snowberry, her vintage 1991 teddy, that came with a book, she said. Now it will be shared with her 10-month-old daughter, Lenna, who has just started to walk. 

“I feel like I'm getting a second maternity leave,” said Underwood, who works at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Worried that she might miss milestones, she was delighted to be home to see Lenna take her first steps, wave and clap. Husband Scott Underwood, a Woodside Middle School teacher, also is working from home. 

Around the corner, the Fisher family was passing the time with puzzles and video games and looking forward to popcorn, pickles and pizza, according to 4-year-old Anna Fisher. Her brother, John, almost 7, and little sister, Marisol, 2, were busy playing with a teddy bear and putting him up high in the window for neighbors to see. 

Their father, Matt Fisher, had his hands full while their mother, Elizabeth, was upstairs with 6-month-old Sebastian. 

A short walk up the street from the Fishers' lone teddy bear is the home of Megan and Doug Kraft. The house sits at the corner of North Washington Road and has a teddy bear in each window. 

“It's an extra avenue of entertainment for kids and families in a time where we are limited in what we can do. My kids enjoyed putting them in all of our windows, and we love watching people walk by and point to the bears,” Megan Kraft said. 

Smith-Eckstein said she got the idea from a friend's Facebook post. Her friend, who lives in nearby neighborhood, is part of a movement encouraging people to comfort their neighbors with displays of heart shapes, teddy bears, Christmas lights and, soon, Easter decorations.

“A heart in the window lets people, especially children, know we are all in this together,” she wrote.

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