The Recorder – Traditional Easter egg hunts return to Franklin County
The arrival of Easter weekend was met with the familiar sight of children scampering and hopping with joy in Easter egg hunts across Franklin County, as many events returned in their full eggstravagant fashion for the first time since 2019.
Saturday’s Easter egg hunts kicked off with the return of the Northfield Kiwanis Club’s annual hunt at Northfield Elementary School at 9 a.m.
Dozens of kids of all ages lined up and immediately began filling their baskets as soon as they were given the green light. And, as quick as the hunt started, it was over as the 1,200 eggs laid out across the school’s lawn were snatched up by children looking for candy.
“It’s wonderful because everyone has been locked inside for two years,” said Northfield resident Laura Santerre. “It’s so fun for the kids.”
Santerre’s son, Parker, had built up quite the collection of eggs and was excited to dig into their contents.
“I can’t count them,” Parker, 6, said of his pile of eggs. He added that his favorite part of Easter is “when the eggs are hidden.”
Children were also given a chance to meet the Easter Bunny, who was escorted in Police Chief Jon Hall’s cruiser. Northfield EMS crews were also giving children tours of their ambulance and tools.
“It’s getting back to normal,” said Northfield Kiwanis Club President Denis Murphy. “The kids always have fun.”
Murphy thanked the Fire, EMS and Police departments for helping put the event together and said “it’s like a Thanksgiving dinner” in that it takes hours to prepare for and it’s over in minutes.
The festivities continued as the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield held its first-ever egg hunt on the church’s lawn.
Children quickly snatched up the 2,200 eggs, which were donated by the Moose Lodge and parishioners.
“We thought this was something simple we could do,” said Rector Heather Blais. “There are happy kids and that’s what matters.”
Blais said the idea for the hunt came out of a feeling of “disconnect” with the community after two years of pandemic living, which sparked the plan to hold a free community event to bring people together. There was also a bake sale with proceeds benefiting the church.
Greenfield resident Maja Hussey said it was a fun event to bring her son to, especially after missing out on a few years of normal childhood activities.
“This is great,” she said. “We missed it last year and this is his first real egg hunt.”
More than 100 children eagerly awaited the go signal from Montague Parks and Recreation Director Jon Dobosz Saturday afternoon at Unity Park. And once the signal was given, the horde of children — or “human vacuums” as Dobosz described them — descended on the 5,000 eggs scattered about, as the field was picked clean in a matter of minutes.
Saturday’s EGGstravaganza marked the first time the event was held in its traditional format since 2019. The 2020 edition was in “drive-by” format as Dobosz and Peter Cottontail drove around Montague and handed out eggs, and 2021 featured a drive-thru event. This year’s event was sponsored by the Montague Elks Club and Greenfield Savings Bank.
“It’s fantastic,” Dobosz said of the event returning to its traditional style. “It’s been a long two years. It’s exactly the type of thing to help bring some normalcy.”
He added that the egg hunt went smoothly and the Parks and Recreation Department will be ready to do it all over again in 2023.
“It was as successful as we had hoped,” he said, “and we hope to do it again next year.”
Jaelah Rodgers, a 7-year-old Greenfield resident, said she had a great time running around the field and filling up her bag of eggs.
“My plan was going for all the eggs on this side,” she said, referencing the large amount of eggs near the field’s fence. “I did kind of good.”
Jaelah said the egg hunt was “really fun” and that she was looking forward to spending “time with family and friends” over the holiday weekend.
Elizabeth Boltz, who organized Sunday’s inaugural Shelburne Falls egg hunt, hopped fervently between the prize table and a bustling crowd of families looking to trade in their findings for goodies.
“It’s been kind of wild,” she said as she handed out prizes. “It’s wilder than I expected it to be.”
Holly Sonntag, manager of The Blue Rock restaurant that hosted the prize exchange, estimated that “a little over 100 people” braved flurries of April snow between noon and 1 p.m. to seek 2,000 eggs, compete for 100 gift cards and exchange what they found for gifts. The eggs were strewn throughout downtown and surrounding streets.
“The wilder the better!” Boltz said. “This was wonderful.”
Boltz and Sonntag each credited the community’s enthusiasm for making the event as successful as it was.
“Residents donated,” Sonntag said, referencing the abundance of prizes. “Everyone did.”
Those who participated in the hunt extended beyond those who typically celebrate Easter. Conway resident Shirin Morris and her daughter, Molly Alce, who are Jewish, took Alce’s children Emelia and Rosalie to Shelburne Falls for their first-ever egg hunt.
“It’s our second time celebrating Easter, but not here,” said Emelia, 8.
When asked if she was having fun, Rosalie, 5, smiled wide and shouted a confident “yes!”
“It’s been fun,” Morris agreed. “There were a lot of people.”
“There’s a lot more people than I thought there would be,” Alce added.
When considering how she might reprise this event in the future, Boltz said she might look to expand the celebration to include more than just an egg hunt, suggesting that next year might include a picnic.
“Hopefully, the community will continue to get involved,” she said. “Maybe it’ll grow into something more beautiful as time goes on.”
Chris Larabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-930-4081. Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or email@example.com.