The Easter Bunny welcomed hugs, posed for pictures and doled out high-fives Saturday in Orchard Park as eager children jockeyed for position before the start of the 57th annual Centre Region Parks and Recreation Easter egg hunt.
Well, the term “hunt” is used very loosely, CRPR Recreation Supervisor Beth Lee said. Hunting wasn’t necessary. More than 7,000 colorful plastic eggs were scattered across the ground as far as little eyes could see. They just needed to be gathered up.
But the rabbit was for real.
“It’s the real Easter Bunny!” 4-year-old Elise Reutzel shouted with authority after accepting a hug and a Tootsie Roll from the big-eared bunny. She was there with her equally enthusiastic friend and State College neighbor Marcus Auvillain, 5.
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Jaylee Cook, 8, of West Decatur, jumped up and down, partly excited and partly to keep warm while waiting for the go-ahead with her mom, Tessa Cook.
Veteran or novice, it’s important to have an Easter-egg-securing plan.
“Get the nearest eggs and not go far” was 9-year-old Isabella Chen’s strategy. She’d gotten the advice from her aunt, she said.
“Five, four, three, two, one ... go!” Lee shouted through a bullhorn, and 500 or so children were off.
Some toddled, some charged, others strategically crawled, scooping with their arms. A few just stood, confused, and let the older kids or parents do the work.
Armed with bags, buckets and baskets and accompanied by picture-taking parents and grandparents, they scurried across the brown grass with the promise of a candy reward and hoping to snag one of the coveted prize-winning eggs.
The State College Evening Rotary, which sponsored the event, donated gift baskets that were won by children in each age group who found eggs containing prize notifications.
“Are these mine?” Micah Hall, 4, asked in excited disbelief as he accepted a basket and assessed its contents. Call it beginner’s luck.
Micah moved to State College in January with his parents, Rebecca and Dan Hall, so it was his first CRPR eggsperience. He seemed pretty pleased with a gift basket and a 12-egg haul.
Incentive to return next year for the 58th annual event — rain, snow or shine, as is the tradition.