Last modified: Thursday, April 11, 2013

EASTHAMPTON — More than 300 children at the city’s annual Easter egg hunt Saturday waited excitedly, some actually bouncing up and down, as School Resource Officer Alan Schadel counted down to the start of the hunt at 10 a.m. Volunteers dropped the yellow caution tape holding back the crowds of kids and they took off into a sea of 18,000 plastic eggs, with their parents cheering and shouting advice from the sidelines.

And that was exactly what organizers wanted to see, after about a dozen parents last year invaded the egg hunt area and refused to stop helping them collect eggs. A few were reportedly rude to volunteers and even encouraged their kids to take eggs from the area reserved for kids four and under.

“It went well, the parents listened,” Schadel said after the hunt, while children and parents sat on the pavement to crack open the plastic eggs to reveal candy or tickets for special prizes. “Last year parents were out there and there was some pushing and shoving, but there were a lot more volunteers this year.”

Robin Bialecki, executive director of the Easthampton Community Center, which puts on the event, said she enlisted extra help to make sure that things were more civil than last year’s event. About 20 volunteers set up and supervised the hunt Saturday, including some wearing reflective vests who walked among the children gathering eggs. Two police officers were also present.

“I believe it went well, although it would have been nicer to have warmer weather,” Bialecki said while handing out prizes. The hunt was held in the parking lot of the Municipal Building because Daley Field was too snowy. “I think everybody had a good time.”

Schadel used a megaphone to give parents a few extra reminders that the egg hunt area was for children only. “Parents, stay back and let your children go on their own,” he instructed.

They stuck to the sidelines per his orders, some snapping photographs and chatting with neighbors. Others trotted down the sideline shouting encouragement and advising their kids to head to the far end of the parking lot, where there were less children. A few accepted the bulging bags of eggs their kids were lugging so they could head out for round two with a second shopping bag.

Ryan Laflamm, 7, of Easthampton, emptied his bag of eggs with his father, Chad Laflamm, after the hunt. He said the hunt was fun and his egg-collection was fruitful, but it wasn’t easy.

“I was trying to put my bag down and trying to get handfuls of eggs but they would slip out of my hand,” he said.

Schadel’s wife, Jennifer, and nine-year-old son, Andrew, were also emptying candy from the plastic egg shells, which the Community Center reuses each year. Jennifer Schadel said the whole family has been coming to the event for nine years.

“It’s fun to come out and see everyone that you haven’t seen since last Easter,” she said.

She admitted that last year’s hunt was “crazy” but said everyone was better behaved this year. “Just let your kids get their own eggs,” she said.

Among those getting their pictures taken with the Easter bunny after the hunt was the Monska family of Northampton. John and Jean Monska posed with their sons, Aiden, 1, and Tyler, 3. Tyler sat grinning on the bunny’s knee and yelled “cheeseburger!” with gusto as the camera flashed.

Jean Monska said things went very smoothly in the area reserved for kids four and under to hunt for eggs. “It was great. There were lots of eggs and no pushing,” she said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.


 


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