'Street Safari' bringing joy to kids, parents during coronavirus lockdown

Posted at 3:55 PM, Apr 22, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – If you look closely in Washington D.C., you may witness a safari unlike any seen on the city’s streets before.

“We thought it was going to be 20 animals,” said Judith Bunnell, “and we’re now over 270.”

The 270 stuffed animals of all kinds are now roaming in the windows of the Georgetown Street Safari in the nation’s capital.

There are bears and bunnies and cows and fish and odd-looking stuffed creatures, which are giving kids something to look forward to on a walk. Kara Getz and her young daughter, Katie, have seen plenty of them.

“Do we see little animals in the window?” Getz said to Katie. “We saw little bunnies yesterday and we saw bears.”

Judith Bunnell and her daughter, India Olchefske, are the guides behind the safari.

“Our only goal is to bring a bit of joy,” Olchefske said.

The safari comes complete with an online tracking map posted on Facebook.

“I said, ‘India, wouldn’t it be fun? Do you think you can make a treasure map for kids looking for stuffed animals?’” Bunnell said.

Then, it took on a life of its own: hundreds of area homeowners jumped in to let them know about their little animal in the window.

“We see these little kids, with the map in hand, walking house to house and pointing,” Bunnell said.

And the kids?

“It’s been a nice, neighborhood activity and I think, especially with the young kids, the ability to get outside and walk around -- Katie gets super excited when she looks up in the windows,” Getz said.

Which, India Olchefske said, is the whole point – to convey a sense of comfort in tough times.

“Seeing your friend’s house – maybe you can’t go play with your friend,” Olchefske said. “But at least you can see their house and see their animal and have some sort of shared experience.”

It’s an experience helping to rebuild connections and imaginations, one stuffed animal at a time.