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Marriottsville Easter egg hunt draws hundreds of children

They clutched pastel baskets, shopping bags, and one even carried an orange jack-o-lantern bucket, as they anxiously waited, squirming and occasionally reaching down for a brightly colored egg only to have a grown up warn, "Not yet!"

Nearly 400 kids and their parents attended the Easter egg hunt at Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in Marriottsville Saturday morning. Before the official hunt began some kids got their faces painted or listened to Easter stories inside the church. The church also provided sidewalk chalk and blow bubbles.

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None of these side events tempered the would-be egg hunters' visible eagerness to get on with the mad dash. Many little ones kept their gaze fixed on the dozens of brightly colored eggs. Some couldn't wait for the official start of the hunt and ran with outstretched hands toward the grassy field and playground where volunteers had already laid down 6,000 plastic eggs stuffed with small toys or candy.

Adam Vaughn, a volunteer at the church had the "impossible job," of keeping the overly enthusiastic participants from starting too early. He and others stood watch along the field for nearly two hours. He tried to distract the kids by asking them to count the colors they saw or guess how many eggs there were.

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As it approached 11:30 a.m.—the official start time—the line of kids thickened. Parents lined up with iPhones and digital cameras to capture the moment.

Trisha Umanah, the church nursery coordinator who ran the event, shouted over squeals of excitement: "Hey guys, back up. All the way back."

She instructed the crowd that they each were allowed to pick 18 eggs. And then, at last, she gave the go ahead and the crowd charged the soccer field, scrambling to grab as many eggs as they could.

Some kids quickly reached out for the first eggs they saw. Others sprinted across the grass, passing dozens of eggs in order to distance themselves from the pack.

In less than three minutes, the entire field was cleared. The eggs church volunteers had spent hours stuffing with treats were all snatched up.

Some kids lugged their weighted baskets back toward the church, while others eagerly pulled their eggs apart to see what was inside.

Umanah said the event was an opportunity for the church to reach out to the community, and something for families to do together. Participants were invited to stay and picnic after the egg hunt or buy hot dogs.

"It's really a great family activity," she said.

After 5-year-old Evie Golden had filled her orange beach pail she ran to show her parents, Debbie and Mike Golden, her haul.

"I got a soccer ball," she said pulling out an egg with a black and white pattern.

Saturday's egg hunt was more relaxing for Debbie Golden, who said she would have another egg hunt outside their home Easter morning, using eggs she and Evie had decorated.

"It's going to be a very tiring 5 a.m. tomorrow," she said.

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Golden, who lives in Howard County, said she had to think of new ways to keep her daughter believing in the Easter Bunny. After she hid eggs inside the house last year, she said her daughter asked how the Easter Bunny got past the home security system.

"That was hard to explain," she said with a smile.

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