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Hunting from a distance: Newton families participate in Neighborhood Window Hunts for local children

With local children home from school during these unprecedented times, parents are looking for new ways to keep their kids active and learning. 

Following a suggestion on the Newton Iowa Mom’s Group on Facebook, community members have been participating in a Neighborhood Window Hunt activity since the middle of March. The hunt asks people in Newton to make decorations and hang them in their windows for local children to find. 

Newton stay-at-home mom Jennifer Parsons posted the idea to Facebook and it took off from there. 

“I can’t take full credit for this idea at all. My sister actually told me about the window hunt she and her family are participating in in their town," Parsons said. "I thought it would be something fun to get people involved in here as well. I suggested it in a Newton moms Facebook group, and everyone loved the idea.” 

It began March 23 with people putting hearts in their windows to show support for medical staff and first responders. Then, four days later, National Scribble Day was celebrated in people's window panes for local children to find. On Monday, people were asked to decorate with animals of all kinds. Families are encouraged to drive or walk around the neighborhoods to find the decorations. 

Parsons said the response has been “awesome.” She was surprised how many families wanted to participate and was excited by the response. Parsons collects and posts the addresses of people participating in hunt to the Mom’s Facebook page to help families know where to go. 

“I can’t believe how many addresses I have received. Parents have even commented to honk as you drive by their house to say hello. I think the parents are loving it just as much as the kids — I know I have,” Parsons said.

Beginning April 6, people will decorate windows with flowers. Then on April 10, Easter eggs will cover people’s windows giving kids a new way to enjoy the traditional egg hunt during the holiday. Even though it’s not the typical Easter egg hunt, it still gives area children something to look forward to and enjoy. 

“I think a lot of people participating in this have small children. A lot of these kids probably don’t understand the severity of what is happening right now, and we need to keep things as normal as possible for them," Parsons said. "An activity like this not only gives our kids something to do at home but also something to look forward to and get excited about when it comes time for the window hunt.”

Anyone in the community can join in the activity, in fact Parsons hopes more people will participate. Those with no children at home can join in the fun, too, it is a community event for everyone. With the activity leading up to the Easter holiday, Parsons said “it would be awesome to have hundreds of eggs throughout the neighborhood.” 

Parsons moved to Newton with her husband and three small children in December of 2018. Even in that short time, she has enjoyed the benefits of a small town and how the community comes together to help others, even in the difficult times. 

“My family hasn’t lived in Newton for long, but it has become our home, and we are so thankful for the people here. I would just love to thank everyone for participating. My family, especially my three young kids, have enjoyed this so much,” she said. 

As the community continues to adjust to changes and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it is activities like this window hunt that have helped give children an organized activity to participate in while also maintaining the social distancing guidelines.

Other organizations have been putting together similar activities to give area youth something to look forward to. The Newton Public Library and Jasper County Conservation are hosting bear hunts around the community that encourage kids to kids stuffed bears in windows or along trails. 

It’s thanks to these organizations and people like Parsons who help bring the activities to life to offer opportunities around the community to create excitement not only for the kids but for the parents, too. 

“Parents have commented how much they have enjoyed this and how excited the kids have been to count the number of items they find in windows,” Parsons said. 

Contact Pam Pratt at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or

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