The Easter Bunny stood in the middle of a grassy square, cornered by bright orange cones and lined with blue grass lines reinforced by hundreds of children and their camera wielding parents. Suddenly, the bunny began waiving his arms over his head invitingly. It was on. Chaos.
Children ranging from late elementary school to toddlers barely able to walk – with four different age groups divided among four different grids – scurried to grab as many of the hundreds of candy-containing plastic Easter eggs as they can. It was part of Garner’s Spring Eggstravaganza Saturday at Lake Benson Park, an event attended by an estimated 2,800 which went off under beautiful sunny weather and which featured a variety of activities for the children.
But the day hinged on the egg hunt at noon. About 15-20 minutes beforehand children began lining up on the ropes. Veteran and newcomer hunters alike prepared for what turned out to be maybe a minute of madness for each square, with the furry white guest of honor sequentially setting loose each age group, youngest first. Some were confused, some frantic. Others had a plan, such as River Durham, 7, who sat with his sister Hailey, 10, taking inventory of their haul.
“You got to set the bag down, and go like this with your hands,” explained Garner resident River Durham, 7, as he motioned in a rapid motion collecting one imaginary egg from the ground after another and shoveling them into his basket.
They had also gotten a tip on where to go from their father Johnnie.
“I told them not to stop. You see kids stop on the edge (of the egg field), so I told them to run into the middle,” the elder Durham said.
Audry Gantipoulous, waiting on the outside of the starting line of the 2-year-old-and-under grid, chuckled at seeing the egg hunt for the first time last year, when they didn’t know what to expect or when the hunt started.
“We said, oh, cool, an egg hunt. And then it started and we were like, ‘woah, this is serious,’” Gantipoulous said. “We did not come prepared.”
The event featured more than an egg hunt. Inflatable slides, face-painting, bubble blowing, an animal act, food and a few games also provided entertainment for most ages of children, plus some simply used the swings and slides of Lake Benson Park right next to the event.
And of course, there was a line to get pictures with the Easter Bunny. While Lisa Briggs’ daughter Kylea went first to the inflatable slides, then face-painting and bubbles, Briggs had a favorite of her own.
“I like the Easter Bunny,” said the Aversboro Elementary teacher who lives in North Raleigh. “because it’s free and not $20 for a picture like it is at the mall.”