Kids get early start on Easter egg harvest
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 12:28 a.m.
A lawn the size of a football field lay divided in five sections Saturday, allowing children to gather by age groups and dash out together in search of hundreds of plastic eggs filled with candy and trinkets.
The free event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds was one of at least a half-dozen mass hunts held around the county the day before Easter.
Mike Tonks, pastor of Santa Rosa's Tree of Life Fellowship, the sponsor of the fairgrounds' event, said he expected about 5,000 parents and children to help collect a total of 25,000 eggs.
New hunts began every half hour or so. In between, volunteers took colored eggs from plastic garbage bags and scattered them around a lawn that in summer is home to the fair's carnival rides and midway. Not far from the field of eggs, children played carnival games and climbed on four inflatable jump houses and slides.
“We want to be a celebrating people,” Tonks said. “And Easter, there's no better time to celebrate.”
Saturday's events included the 66th annual egg hunt at Doyle Park, a free event produced by the local Exchange Club.
About 150 children there filled baskets with candy that had been placed on lawn beneath two stately oak trees.
Joe Perez of Santa Rosa brought his two sons, Tre, 7, and Quentin, 6. He said he has come to the event each year for more than a decade.
For the children, he said, “It's the thrill of the hunt.”
As a child, Sandy Yule of Santa Rosa took part in one of the club's egg hunts. Now she was back with her daughter, Malia Turner, age 5.
“I just wanted to come so she could experience what I experienced when I was a little girl,” Yule said.
Harold “Bud” Hill, the club's most veteran member, said he talked to a couple of visitors this year who had attended the event as children roughly a half century ago.
“Now they have grandkids that age,” Hill said.
The sky stayed overcast most of the day, though the sun broke through for the second round of children grabbing eggs from the softball field at Santa Rosa's Howarth Park. The city's Recreation and Parks Department sponsored the event, which cost $6 per child.
Many of the children, ages 3 and younger, wandered far into the outfield. But 10-month-old Owen Breedlove of Santa Rosa quickly sat down on the grass, contentedly shaking an egg in each hand.
He later had his picture taken with mother Sandra Breedlove, 4-year-old sister Sedona and the Easter Bunny. His father, Tom Breedlove, and two sets of grandparents looked on.
The family turned out “cause it's fun,” said Sandra Breedlove.
John-Paul and Cammie Scirica of Windsor were pleased they had brought their two-year-old daughter Addison to the event.
“She had a blast,” her father said.
At the fairgrounds, about 90 volunteers helped run the hunts and games. After one hunt, it took 16 of them to spread a new batch of eggs for the five areas that served children from toddlers to “10 plus.”
Nearby, Sigge Mellerstig, 6, of the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, opened his eggs from the last round and pulled out at least four plastic bracelet “funny bands.” With him were brother Lars, 3, father Jason Mellerstig, and grandfather Kent Mellerstig of Santa Rosa.
Sigge Mellerstig explained he was visiting his grandfather while on spring break from kindergarten. The best part, he said, was “that I get to celebrate Easter with him.”
You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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