By Skye Sherman
March 27, 2020
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Credit: Courtesy of the College Park Neighborhood Association

Bears in bushes. Fish in trees. Giraffes hiding beneath mailboxes… in a sign of the bizarre times we’re living in, one Florida community is embracing a walk on the wild side.

College Park, a historic 26-street neighborhood in the artsy, quirky town of Lake Worth Beach, has implemented a creative answer to the boredom and isolation of closed schools and self-quarantine: a neighborhood stuffed-animal safari, where residents take a (socially distant) stroll to see how many exotic sightings they can score in their neighbors’ yards.

Credit: Courtesy of the College Park Neighborhood Association

“We posted the idea on social media on Wednesday afternoon and the neighborhood just rallied behind it, and Thursday morning it was on,” said Cara Pace, board member on the College Park Neighborhood Association.

“We did it just for a one-day pop-up, but we actually got such a great response that we’re going to extend it through the weekend,” Pace added. “Everyone seems to love it.”

College Park residents have united under the hashtag #CoPaSafari and hidden everything from turtles to tigers to flamingos in their trees, bushes, and beyond, all for the entertainment of neighbors who are staying home to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

“We have a neighbor who had 10 animals hidden in her yard, and she actually made a little sign that said, ‘Can you spot them all?’ and listed out all the animals,” Pace said.

Credit: Courtesy of the College Park Neighborhood Association

“I have a 9-year-old and she counted 58 animals,” Katie Doyle, a resident of the nearby Abacoa community, told The Palm Beach Post. Her neighborhood hosted a “Zoofari” earlier in the week, inspiring Pace.

Credit: Courtesy of the College Park Neighborhood Association

College Park isn’t the only place organizing an at-home safari: similar grassroots efforts have popped up from Olympia in Wellington, another South Florida community, all the way to Bay Ridge, Maryland and Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Neighborhoods across the country are encouraged to join in the fun.