RALEIGH — Kids who are serious about their Easter egg hunts know they can’t run haphazardly into the foray, desperately hoping to make it through the tangle of elbows with a respectable amount of loot. They need a game plan.
Twelve-year-old Abigail Crispo, who was visiting from Canada, had a strategy during the “Raleigh Easter” egg hunt downtown Saturday: “Pick a spot and grab as many as you could.”
Others had loftier ideas. Dylan Andrade, 8, had planned to turn into a giant to increase his egg-hunting chances.
Meanwhile, Dylan’s twin sister, Isabella, focused more on defense. “Block everyone from getting eggs,” she said matter-of-factly, while her mother reminded her to use manners.
For the fifth year, Vintage21 Church, which has campuses in Raleigh and Durham, is behind Raleigh Easter events going on this weekend. The church expected about 10,000 people for Saturday’s series of egg hunts at the Halifax Mall lawn across from the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Children had the chance to find 60,000 plastic eggs filled with candy, small toys and prizes.
Vintage21 also is hosting an Easter church service at 11 a.m. Sunday at Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center.
The church is all about reaching out to the community, said pastor Matt Stevens.
Bringing thousands of people together for an Easter egg hunt is one way to do that. So is encouraging newcomers to attend Sunday’s service in a place that isn’t a usual church.
“Part of what we try to do is make church less intimidating for people who didn’t grow up in a church,” Stevens said.
Raleigh Easter has grown over the years. About 6,000 people attended last year’s egg hunt, when kids snatched up 30,000, said Rachel Gross, communications director for Vintage21.
For the first few years, the egg hunt took place in Moore Square. But the church moved the event a few blocks over to the Halifax Mall after a tornado ripped through downtown last year on the weekend before Easter, scattering debris around the park.
More than two dozen local businesses and organizations sponsored this year’s event.
Gertrude Chisholm, 54, went to the egg hunt with her daughter and five grandchildren.
“They’re having a great time,” Chisholm said of the kids.
‘Louder than we can say’
Members of Vintage21 also were having fun.
“Any time we can serve our city, we know we’re living a message that’s louder than we can say,” said Tom Asta, 39, of Raleigh.
DeeDee Stevens, 39, of Raleigh, has been a member of Vintage 21 for six years. She said it’s important to spread God’s love in the place she lives.
“Whatever I interact with, that’s where I should share that love,” she said. “This is one way we share that love – with eggs and candy.”
That’s where strategy comes into play.
Seven-year-old Chase Williams, who lives on Long Island and was in town visiting family, said he ran to the back of the lawn to beat the rush.
That’s also the advice church member Brandalyn Furr, 21, of Raleigh shared with anxious egg hunters.
“To avoid getting flattened, go to the back,” she said. “It’s like a treasure trove out there.”