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Battle of the bands: Bobby Bones and his friends, named Benny, Betty and Blanche by neighbors, pose wearing band T-shirts.

This is an open love letter to my plastic skeleton, Bobby Bones.

Our love story begins with a fateful chance meeting. I was leisurely strolling the aisles of Target when our eyes meet. I was stopped dead in my tracks. (My mouth may have fallen agape; I’m not sure).

As I gazed deep into your dark eye (sockets) I immediately began imagining all the fun we could have together. Apparently, you felt the same. The next thing I knew, you were sitting in the child’s seat of my shopping cart as I practically skipped out of Target.

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Bobby Bones and a friend bathe a skeleton puppy.

I brought you home to our quiet suburban neighborhood, and you settled in quickly.

Our shenanigans began immediately.

Each day we would set up new scenes and outfits that would make my family and me giggle. You have proven to be quite the character!

One day you were a hula dancer, the next you were dressed up as the late, great Bob Ross. You walked on stilts, played in the leaves, practiced yoga and rode in a kayak, just in your first Halloween season.

We certainly were having fun. What happened next was unexpected. People started to notice you. We always meant to make our neighbors smile with our antics, but that was the extent of the plan.

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Bobby Bones and friends play Twister.

The cars driving by your corner started slowing down. Then they started stopping and taking pictures. Next they started waving. Soon, people were rolling down their windows and introducing themselves.

Neighbors out for walks would come and chat, not only with us, but with each other in our absence.

Seems simple, right? I assure you, it’s anything but. We had lived here for three years and knew the names of four of our neighbors. Then you came along. Our little bubble was rapidly filling with wonderful people we may never have had the opportunity to meet, and all right in the same neighborhood.

Fast forward to March 2020. In our state of Pennsylvania, we were quarantined to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

You emerged from your closet in the guest room and assumed your spot by the street to try to cheer people up. Hopefully, we added a bit of brightness in such a trying time.

Lots of people in the neighborhood were walking daily, and many planned their walking route around you. Quarantine and the coronavirus were keeping people apart, but, in our neck of the woods, you were helping to bring people together — even if they were standing 6 feet apart.

This has been your second Halloween season, and you are still going strong.

You have acted as the catalyst for so many new relationships. In this season of uncertainty, we are in need of human connectivity more than ever. We are currently cut off from most of our family and friends, and yet you have given us the gift of new connections. Cue “Cheers” theme song here.

Our neighborhood walks are now filled with familiar faces, and our Facebook feeds are filled with light-hearted banter among the neighbors that we are now happy to call budding friends.

Now, when we walk out our door, there are people to greet us. A sense of belonging is what every human being craves — more now than ever.

I am happy to know that my children will grow up in a community, not just in a neighborhood.

It amazes me every day that these wonderful changes in my family’s lives were brought about by a plastic skeleton, and the irony of it all is not lost on me.

Thanks for reminding us that this world is still filled with wonderful people, and that one of the truest joys in life is a sense of belonging.

I love you, you big bag of bones,

Laura.

The author lives in Manheim Township, where Bobby Bones and his new friends for this year, Benny, Betty and Blanche, have been holding court at Hollywood Drive and Park Avenue. Read more about Bobby Bones at: bit.ly/BobbyBonesLNP.