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Aberdeen / Havre De Grace
News Maryland Harford County Aberdeen / Havre De Grace

Havre de Grace egg hunt passes in a flash

In less than a minute, it was over.

An estimated 350 to 400 children swarmed through Millard Tydings Memorial Park in Havre de Grace, grabbing about 7,000 eggs in 55 seconds on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon.

The event was the Havre de Grace Recreation Committee's 30th annual Easter Egg Hunt.

"We love it," Tracy Eaton, of Jarrettsville, said. She came to the hunt with her husband, Travis, and 6-year-old son, Travis Jr. "It goes by fast; they're quick, they don't waste any time."

The children raced to get as many eggs as possible, which meant prizes such as candy and games. They also hunted for eggs that contained slips of paper with specific prizes on them, such as a chocolate bunny.

"Ring Pop!" Travis Jr. cried of triumphantly, mentioning one of the many prizes he picked up in a basket provided by the Havre de Grace Police Department.

Kim and Art Machado, of Abingdon, brought their 2-year-old daughter, Isabella, to her first Havre de Grace hunt. Isabella was able to get candy, but none of the large prizes, her mother said.

"It was fun," Kim Machado said. "It was really fast."

Committee President John Narvell III noted such short times are typical – last year's hunt took about a minute and a half.

"It takes a lot longer to stuff the eggs and put them down," he said after the hunt.

The Havre de Grace Recreation Committee is a nonprofit and volunteer-run organization, which gets portions of its funding from the city and Harford County.

The committee's only paid employee, Recreation Specialist Karen Green, has been involved with the egg hunt since it began in 1984.

She noted the event comes with free admission, and there were no vendors on site at the park, although children could meet the Easter Bunny. A person dressed as the Easter Bunny stayed in the park long after the hunt itself was over, greeting and taking pictures with the children and their families.

"We sell nothing during the event," Green said. "The event is free."

The egg hunt is one of several community events put on by the recreation committee, such as its annual Halloween parade, that Green called "wallet friendly."

"Our motto is, 'Safe, affordable and fun,' " Green said.

A major reason for the hunt being over so quickly is that the eggs are not hidden, but rather scattered over the grassy areas of Tydings Park, Green explained, because of the lack of hiding places.

The park is divided into sections for the four age groups – ages 2 and younger, ages 3 to 5, ages 6 to 8 and ages 9 to 11 – to conduct their hunts.

"Ummm, getting candy," 5-year-old Jasmyne Berry, of Aberdeen, said asked what was her favorite part of the egg hunt.

Her mother, Tia, said the best parts for her as a parent are "just to see the kids get excited and have fun."

Lily Deady, 7, of Belcamp, described the experience as "awesome."

She came Saturday with her brother, Nathan, 9, their mother, Holly, and their family friend, Kelly Grant ,of Baltimore County. Grant brought her two children, 9-year-old, Lindsay, and 3-year-old Sienna.

"It was really cool, because they had a lot of eggs," Nathan remarked.

Saturday's hunt was the first for the Grant family; Holly Deady invited them to an event she regularly attends with her children.

"It's nice to get out, especially as the weather's nice," Deady said.

The event is also heavily staffed by volunteers, who set up the tape to mark out age group areas and help with loading and unloading materials, setting out eggs and distributing prizes.

"More hands lifting that load makes the load lighter," Narvell said.

He noted volunteers include those who show up the day of the event, and other "perennial" volunteers who take part each year.

"It's really a lot easier when you have people like that, who want to volunteer and participate, and we appreciate that," he said.

Some volunteers had hunted eggs as children, such as Megan Schoenberger, 19, of Havre de Grace, and her younger brother, Ryan, 15.

They were in the park's gazebo, watching the action and later handing out prizes, among other tasks.

"When you're [in it], the action is slower, but when you stand up here - blink, it's over," Megan Schoenberger said.

They came with their parents, Amy and Jeff Schoenberger.

Green noted the fast egg hunt also helps parents who are preparing for Sunday's celebration of Easter.

"Many parents say they favor this because the kids get to have their fun moment and then they can relax and work on their (tasks) for the next day," she said.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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