Hundreds of children lined up under sunny skies Saturday at the edge of the lawns of Carson High School, eying thousands of bright-colored plastic eggs scattered over the greens while parents readied cameras and encouragement.
A couple hours later, a similar crowd eyed the eggs and prizes at the fields of Centennial Park.
The sun was especially welcome after early forecasts predicted rain for Saturday, an often normal occurrence for the annual rite of spring in Carson City.
“We’ve volunteered for seven years now and we’ve had cold, wind, and snow,” said David Cherney, a Kiwanis Club volunteer at Centennial Park. “Last year there was a slight drizzle on and off.”
Cherney and his wife Martha stood guard over the eggs at one of the fields, just two of hundreds of volunteers needed for the Carson City Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Carson City, as well as the Egg-Stravaganza at the high school, which is hosted by Capital Christian Center.
The Egg-Stravaganza was the first hunt of the day, with temperatures still a bit on the chilly side.
“It was crazy,” said Justin Simmons, a pastor at the church and organizer of the event. “We got out here at 8:30 (a.m.) with a couple hundred volunteers. There were a little less than 12,000 eggs we put out this morning.”
Among the colorful plastic eggs at the high school were golden eggs that could be turned in for holiday hams. Most eggs were stuffed with candy.
Besides church members, volunteers from Greater Nevada Credit Union, Girl Scouts and area beauty pageant winners also gave a helping hand.
Children started gathering early for the 10:30 a.m. hunt. The lawns at the front of the high school were marked off for different age groups, which each began their hunt at staggered intervals.
The Easter Bunny hopped to the countdown, first for special needs children and the youngest tykes, then for progressively older groups of children, letting loose a series of scurries into the lawns.
Even with a staggered release of the age groups, the eggs disappeared into baskets and bags within minutes.
After the hunt, children and parents huddled in small groups looking over the treats.
Examining the eggs they’d collected, Aleah Hemerson, 10, and her sister Mya, 8, explained their strategy for gathering a lot of eggs.
“It was mostly to go to the front and back and then to the front again,” Aleah said.
“I go for the golden eggs, and then go all over,” Mya said.
“It was a good work out,” she added.
A couple hours later, after the sun climbed enough to warm the day, the Easter Bunny changed into a clean vest and joined the children gathered for the 36th annual Kiwanis Carson City Easter Egg Hunt at the four baseball fields at Centennial Park.
On Saturday, the special needs children cleaned out the infield set aside for them soon after the 11:30 a.m. “go” signal.
Then the rest of the children, divided into age groups, were lead around the outfield to await their turn. Soon after noon, the mad dash began — and ended within minutes as outfields were picked clean of eggs, Frisbees and stuffed animals.
Each of the four fields also had two specially decorated eggs that entitled the finder to a new bicycle. Other plastic eggs contained certificates for free meals and other prizes.
After the hunt, Marco Romero, 8, and his brother Carlo, 3, sat on bleachers opening their plastic eggs. Marco found a coupon for Johnny Rockets and was looking forward to having a milkshake at the restaurant.
From Folsom, Calif., the boys were in Carson City visiting family for the holiday, said their mom, Mary Romero, who was born and raised in Carson City.
It takes a lot of labor, planning and volunteers to make the egg hunt enjoyable for the children who come.
Assisting the Kiwanis volunteers to keep the Centennial hunt orderly and safe were staff and volunteers from the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, Jr. ROTC, Search & Rescue, and Girl Scouts Troop 445, Carson City Explorers, Carson High School Key Club and other community volunteers.
Kadee Mason, co-chairwoman of the Kiwanis event, explained that all the effort is worth it.
“I love watching the kids,” Mason said. “They get such a joy collecting Easter eggs, seeing the Easter Bunny.”