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'Scare coronas' scare away effects of COVID-19 with creativity and quirk in Northside neighborhood

'If I were the virus, I'd leave us alone.'
Posted at 2:27 PM, May 13, 2020

CINCINNATI — There are lots of ways to ward off the coronavirus -- washing hands, wearing a mask, socially distancing, staying at home.

But if there were a way to frighten away the virus, Northside residents may have found it in the neighborhood's “scare coronas.”

“If I were the virus, I'd leave us alone," said Rene Micheo. “Leave Northside alone.”

Micheo and Tina Gutierrez live in Northside and came up with this artistic take on a lawn ornament that resembles a scarecrow. Unlike typical scarecrows, these mannequins stand on porches "scaring off" COVID-19 instead of standing in corn fields scaring crows.

Made of any kind of household item -- from Kroger plastic bags to cardboard boxes -- the scare coronas are definitely quirky, but that fits right in with Northside’s reputation.

“We thought it could catch on; we hoped it would,” Gutierrez said. “Northside can be known for doing some wacky things. So we thought, let's just try it.”

Gutierrez was right: There are now more than 140 scare coronas scattered across the neighborhood.

“I made one; then she made one; then somebody liked it.” Micheo said. “We posted and everybody started making their own.”

There's even a website to see pictures and a map to take a tour of what has essentially become a neighborhood art show.

To zoom in on the map, use the +/- buttons in the bottom left corner:

The Weber family is behind one of the scare coronas. They gathered items around their house to make their scare corona, which they affectionately named “Lilly.”

“It was a lot of fun to make. The best part honestly has been talking with people when they stop and check her out,” said Ben Weber.

That’s been one of the major benefits to this neighborhood display: the socialization -- from a safe distance -- that the scare coronas have inspired.

“It's so nice to see people smiling again,” Gutierrez said. “Before, when they were walking down the street, they were going their way and not looking each other in the eyes. Now people are smiling and looking up.”

On a drive or walk in Northside to check out the scare coronas, people might see “Herb Skellington,” reminding everyone to wash their hands; Micheo’s, with a disco ball head and plastic bag body; a ballerina holding a teddy bear; or even a huge dragon hovering over the sidewalk.

“We're scaring the depression away,” Gutierrez said.

The Northside walking art show officially runs through May 21, but people have been asked to leave their creations up until the end of the month.