Children crowded anxiously around a field full of brightly colored eggs as the hunt rules were read aloud. When the horn finally sounded, the children scrambled to grab as many eggs as their baskets could hold.
Though the skies were overcast Saturday morning, Carrboro’s Hank Anderson Community Park was brightened by the smiles of excited children with multi-colored Easter baskets, bunny ears and orange aprons. The Orange County Egg Hunt Celebration is more than just an egg hunt. It also features crafts, prizes, the Easter bunny, concessions and live music from Sandbox Kids and Family Fun Band. Children built wooden toys, posed for pictures with the Easter bunny and danced to “On Top of Spaghetti” and “Pajama Party” while they waited for the egg hunts to begin.
“We try to make all of our events free to the public so anybody [from the community] can come, so that there are no economic barriers,” said Sarah Wolfe, event coordinator for the Town of Chapel Hill.
Organizing the hunt
Wolfe said they usually have at least 1,500 people attend the event. The Easter egg hunt event is meant to focus on the community, and the area departments all work together to make it happen, she said.
Fliers are sent out to all the schools in Orange County, said Molly Fitzsimons, recreation program supervisor for Orange County. The fliers are part of the attempt to reach out to the whole community for this event, she said.
The egg hunt was divided into three areas to reduce chaos, said Rah Trost, special events coordinator for Carrboro Recreation and Parks. Children ages 2-4 collected eggs first in an open field scattered with eggs, followed by ages 5-7. Finally the 8- to 10-year-olds searched in a slightly larger, hillier area of the park. Parents gathered around the fields cheering, chatting and taking pictures as their children collected eggs.
Fitzsimons said there were about 24,000 eggs at this year’s event. Many were filled with candy, and others were redeemable for other prizes. By the end of the final hunt, there didn’t appear to be a single egg left on any of the fields.
Seven-year-old Ryan Davis and his brother, Liam, 3, were excited that the eggs had candy in them. The zoo in Seattle, where they used to live, hosted a similar Easter egg hunt, but with no candy.
This is the 10th year that the Town of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation, Carrboro Recreation and Parks, and Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation have worked together on the event, Wolfe said.
Different area recreation departments have been hosting Easter egg hunts since at least the 1980s, said Keitha Barrett, who has been helping with the event for years. In the early 1990s, some of the departments got together and decided it made more sense to have a collective egg hunt, Barrett said.
Now it’s a cooperative event, and the departments rotate who hosts the egg hunt each year, Trost said. This means that since it’s in Carrboro this year, Chapel Hill will host the event next year, and Hillsborough the next. She said the change in location doesn’t usually deter people from each of these areas from coming.
“It was built as the Orange County egg hunt for so long, and they will go regardless, because it’s the tradition,” Trost said.
The Home Depot donated supplies and volunteers for the crafts at the event. LaVonda Brooks, a representative for The Home Depot, said they initially had 400 building kits and later made a second delivery because they ran out halfway through the morning. The kits included wooden parts for children to build picture frames, fire trucks, football game posts, bulletin boards, racecars and coaster sets, to name a few. The store also donated about 200 orange work aprons for children to decorate and keep. The Home Depot brought its own volunteers to the event, but there were so many children building that other event volunteers also helped out with the crafts, Brooks said.
Kidzu Children’s Museum also donated crafts and games led by its volunteers at the event. After the Easter egg hunts ended, the celebration went on with more crafts, prizes and music.
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