Coronavirus has physically isolated everyone, taking a toll on community gatherings. However, some residents of Wellesley have looked to find ways of bringing the community together, even if it is at a social distance.
One person who found a way to do this is Christopher Murphy, Wellesley resident and father of two young kids. Inspired by a family in the North 40 who created an “Alphabet Hunt,” Murphy and his family hid ten foam animal bath toys along the Brook Path, naming their creations the “Brook Path Zoo”. According to Murphy, the Brook Path Zoo has brought a lot of joy to his family, and they hope it is doing the same for others.
“I’m sure it’s brought a few smiles to the people who have found it, and that’s all it’s intended to do. Besides, half the fun was setting it up. The kids call themselves zookeepers. They want to expand and put up more animals further down the path. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving,” said Murphy.
The Murphys created the Brook Path Zoo as an activity for walkers or runners on the path, and advertised it on the Facebook group What’s Up Wellesley as a challenge to find all ten. Murphy encouraged people who found these animals to post a picture of them with the hashtag #BrookPathZoo to create an online community where people could share their experiences with finding these animals. With this activity and the countless others around this area, Murphy hopes to keep the Wellesley community alive in these isolated times.
“There’s the alphabet hunt, a fairy hunt in the Natick Woods, teddy bears in windows, and kindness rocks all over town. When you look around town and see all the effort people make, it’s a continuous reminder that we’re all in this together,” said Murphy.
A similar idea was created by Julie Covino Vogel and her family. This family painted pictures and positive messages on rocks that they then distributed all around the Sprague property. Covino Vogel has a senior at the high school, as well as a five-year-old and two-year-old. Covino Vogel loves the impact the rocks have made on people walking by and thinks spreading this positivity is a great lesson for her kids to learn.
“Every day from our house we would see people of all ages walking around Sprague. Painting the rocks and putting them out was an easy way to say hello even from inside the house,” said Covino Vogel. “We have seen so many people stop and take a second to look at the rocks which is great for the kids to see. It has been a great lesson in sharing positive thoughts and how this little act might brighten someone’s day.”
People who regularly use the Brook Path and other Wellesley trails have echoed that these creations spread happiness and make them feel supported by their community, even in isolating times.
Charlie Prus ’22, who runs both cross country and track at the high school, goes for a run on the Brook Path almost every day. He sees the animals that make up the Brook Path Zoo on every run.
“I like seeing the foam animals on the Brook Path because it reminds me that everyone is trying to get through these times together,” said Prus.
Lisa Bhatt, mother of two high school students, loves to run by herself or take family walks through Wellesley. She has recently started to visit the Sprague property as a change of scenery, as walking or running has now become a daily activity.
“It is such a nice surprise to see the painted rocks with inspiring messages during my runs…it shows me we are all in this together and looking out for each other,” said Bhatt.