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'Foxy and Spidey' game brings joy to Highland Park kids during social distancing

What do a fox and spider have in common? They're bringing joy to kids in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul during social distancing.

ST PAUL, Minnesota — A Halloween decoration and a lawn ornament are now the stars of a hide-and-seek game happening in the Highland Park neighborhood. 

Kate Hanley, a child life specialist, wanted to help parents in her neighborhood after schools closed due to COVID-19. 

"I was looking out my front window thinking, all these parents now have all these kids home and they are not used to it and they're not ready for it and they can't go play on the playgrounds," Hanley said. "So I was looking outside across the street at the golf course thinking, we have all this space." 

So Hanley thought it would be fun to take the concrete fox statue in her yard and hide it at Highland National Golf Course—a public, 18-hole golf course across the street from her. 

Hanley then posted in her neighborhood group on Facebook, encouraging kids to try and find "Foxy." 

Kelly Tronstad saw the post and asked if she could join in on the fun, offering her Halloween spider decoration. 

So began "Foxy and Spidey's Adventures." 

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl
They leave clues of Foxy and Spidey's locations every day on their Facebook page.

"We like to keep it in big, open spaces where kids can run freely," Tronstad said.  

Hanley and Tronstad move Foxy and Spidey to a new spot on the course every day. 

On Friday afternoon, the McMahon family spotted Spidey on a log between the 11th and 13th tees. 

"I just sort of like walking around looking at cool things so it's sort of just like a fun thing to do while we're on a walk," Charlotte McMahon, 9, said. 

Her brother, 11-year-old Brennan McMahon, added,  "It's really fun and if you just need a pastime for about... half an hour to an hour, this is pretty much the perfect thing for it." 

Mom, Melanie McMahon, said they started searching for Foxy and Spidey last week. 

"It's nice to have a destination, to have some place special to go to and for kids to have something to specifically look for," she said. 

Hanley said she liked the idea because it gives kids something to look forward to on their walks. 

"Kids need consistency. You don't need a screen to play it; you don't need to know the schedule. You can just come out any time of day and look," Hanley said. 

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Tronstad added, "In this crazy time when there is a lot of chaos going on... just do what works best for you and I think that's kind of our whole goal. We just want to make the best of this for everybody and make it possible for everybody to take part." 

They leave clues of Foxy and Spidey's locations every day on their Facebook page and also remind people not to touch the objects. 

Credit: Katherine Bliss
4-year-old Teddy Bliss finds Spidey on Friday afternoon.

"We try to give everybody space," said Katherine Bliss, who was searching for Foxy and Spidey with her family on Friday. "I'll say, 'There's someone else looking at Spidey right now. We have to take our turn.' But it does feel like a community event even though we can't get too close." 

On the weekends, they've been leaving gifts near Foxy and Spidey for the first kids who find them. People have also donated gift cards for it. They do sanitize those gifts. 

"I feel like times like this is when we get to be our best, the best human we can be," Hanley said. 

You can follow along on their Facebook page