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Meeting crisis with rainbows: Fast-growing 518 Rainbow Hunt offers local families diversion from COVID-19

Meeting crisis with rainbows: Fast-growing 518 Rainbow Hunt offers local families diversion from COVID-19

Facebook group started by Scotia resident creates fun scavenger hunt for kids during social distancing
Meeting crisis with rainbows: Fast-growing 518 Rainbow Hunt offers local families diversion from COVID-19
Photographer: Peter R. Barber and provided photos

In photos, clockwise from top left: Kristyn Dayter of Scotia, who started the group, in front of the window she created at her home on Larkin Street; Finnegan Ackerbauer, 6, of Johnstown has a smiley face to match his painted smiley face; Schuyler Christiana, 9, of Alplaus offers optimistic advice in her rainbow poster; and Adelyn Blair, 7, of Ballston Lake, poses with the chalk rainbow she produced on the driveway of her Lake Road home.


It seems like everyone is looking for something bright to battle the stress surrounding COVID-19. 

Some have found it in the 518 Rainbow Hunt Facebook group.

Families in Schenectady, Scotia, Niskayuna, Clifton Park and beyond are placing handmade rainbows of every shape, size and medium, on their front windows, doors and even driveways. The goal is to create a rainbow scavenger hunt for kids who are cooped up inside for most of the day. 

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“A great fun way to be with family, get outdoors and be socially distant during this 2020 COVID-19 Outbreak,” posted Kristyn Dayter.

The Scotia resident created the Facebook group on Wednesday after seeing similar ideas on social media. As of Sunday night, the 518 Rainbow Hunt group already had more than 39,917 members. Other groups have popped up in Glens Falls and as far out as Georgia. 

"It is something for kids to do while at home with their families. It lets everybody have a craft during the day or the evening, whenever they're free to do it. Then, during the day if it’s nice, it gives an opportunity for kids to go out either for a walk or a drive with their families," Dayter said. 

She has a son named Kyler, who is just six months old, and though he won’t be helping to make the rainbows, the hunt gives the family something to look forward to. 

"You can't literally stay in your house for two weeks and never leave; that's not healthy for anybody," she said. "People should use common sense obviously. As long as you're not gathering, I don't think it's an issue."

“We saw 14 rainbows in Nisky today! The kids were so excited,” one member posted. 

"We are happy to have this project because not only does it take our minds off the situation, but it also makes us happy to think we are giving others a bright spot in a darker time," said Kimberly Furnish of Scotia, whose 12-year-old son, Isaac, created the family’s rainbow.

Some post photos of rainbows they’ve found along their walks while others share photos of the rainbows they’ve made, whether it be out of construction paper and paint or dozens of Post-It notes.  

Images: Some of the 518 Rainbow Hunt rainbows, a diversion from COVID-19

"I think this project is great," said Jennifer Duncan of Niskayuna, whose 11-year-old daughter, Molly, colored the family's rainbow. "It gives the kids something fun to do while still practicing social distancing."

“We will get to the end of the rainbow soon,” Molly said. 

Being a part of the group also helps families on rainy days, when they might not be able to get outside. It allows them to virtually explore their neighborhood and make a note of where they might find more rainbows when they can go out and explore next. 

“It gives us more of a chance to connect with everyone,” said Clifton Park resident Melissa Richards. 

She’s one of the 518 Rainbow Hunt moderators and initially joined to go on the hunt with her 9-year-old daughter, Kenna. So far their rainbow (which spells out “Hope”) is the only one in their neighborhood, but with how fast the group is growing, that might change soon.  

Richards also hopes to continue the scavenger hunt beyond rainbows. 

“Instead of just doing this for the time being, how about if we do it every month [and] every month [is] something different?

"Like this month is rainbows, April could be eggs or lambs or chicks. Then in May, we could do flowers,” Richards said. 

Other group members hope to take the group nationwide, and it already includes people from Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Greenland. 

"It's kind of beyond the 518 already. Hopefully, maybe it will catch on in their own individual communities and it can just keep going," Dayter said. 

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