The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 35 - 4/27/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
$250 worth of Easter candy disappears in seconds
by Jennifer Binning
At nine o'clock last Saturday morning, an eerie feeling, not unlike the calm before the storm, settled on the Pinedale Town Park.
A group of men and women, accompanied by spouses and children, had assembled in the park with a massive amount of Easter candy waiting to be hidden high and low for the eager children of Pinedale to find.
The men and women are members of the local Lions Club who, for the last 20 years or so, have played Easter Bunny in the park on the Saturday before Easter.
Earlier, the group of volunteers, led by Bill Lanning, chose four age-appropriate areas for the Easter egg hunters: 3 years old and under near the swing set and age four through Kindergarten closer to the bridge. The first, second and third graders would hunt around the fish pond, while the fourth and fifth graders tried to out-scramble each other in the trees and high grass next to the park.
Having roped off each area, the Lions then began to stock up on the essentials - grocery bags full of candy and plastic eggs.
"This is probably the most fun project we do," said Mr. Lanning, who has chaired the event for the past 14 years. "It is a real kick watching the kids." The Lions raise the money for the Easter Egg Hunt during the annual snowmobile raffle, Rendezvous Barbeque, and as part of the freshman boys and girls basketball tournaments that they sponsor.
In addition to the Easter Egg Hunt, the Lions Club International raises money to help the blind, and they collect and distribute old eyeglasses for those in need. Each year, the Lions provide scholarships to college-bound seniors, and this year they are also providing funds to help send Mackenzie Hartwig to Brazil to study the blue macaw.
By 9:20, all the treasures had been hidden, and excited children with their parents in tow began to arrive at the park.
The volunteers were given their marching orders and the battle was on to keep the smallest children from breaking loose from their parents and making a mad dash through the fields of chocolate, scooping up just as much as their little fingers could carry.
Don Keiter wandered around looking at all the candy on the ground and hidden in the trees, and asked how long it would take the kids to scour the place clean. The general consensus among his cohorts was approximately 30 seconds, tops. Mr. Keiter had seen hunts elsewhere, and described the kids as "a massive moving piece of short humanity."
Although the candy and plastic eggs held most children's attention, there was one special egg, a gigantic golden one made by Jeannie Hale, which would net the finder a beautiful homemade Easter Bunny, also made by Ms. Hale.
Within minutes of 10 a.m., the roadway around the park was filled with expectant children. The air was crackling with excitement, and frazzled parents began to look longingly at the roaming Lions for the signal to turn the kids loose.
Finally, at 10 a.m. on the dot, the signal was given, and anyone standing between the children and the candy was in danger of being trampled.
The first wave of children removed 90 percent of the loot right off the bat, but as the kids hit the far side of the hunting grounds and began to turn back to see what they had missed, the Lions sprang into action and pitched candy at the feet of those who had become slightly overwhelmed by the whole scene.
The hunt didn't last long. By 10:30 most of the children and parents had left the park and the Lions began to clean up the flagging used to rope off the hunt areas.
"That candy disappeared faster than spit on a hot manifold," said Mr. Keiter with a grin. The rest of the Lions nodded in agreement, though Jeannie Hale was a bit disappointed. The giant golden egg she had made had been found by a boy wearing a white, short sleeved T-shirt, but he had not claimed the prize, and no one seemed to know his name. Ms. Hale promised to keep the bunny safe until the winner is found.
"Well, the kids had their pick up, now it's our turn," said Mr. Lanning, as he and the rest of the Lions Club volunteers headed to their cars on the way to the next project for the day: picking up roadside litter between Pinedale and the Industrial Site Road.
Anyone knowing the identity of the lucky young man who found the golden egg is asked to call Bill Lanning in the evening at 367-4795. A beautiful handmade Easter bunny is waiting for a home.
Photo credits: Jennifer Binning, Jennifer Binning
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