Springtime in Shady Pines Story Town is magical. Rain showers give way to clearer skies, beautiful flowers, and the Easter season.
This means one thing for many kids around town: It’s time for children to break out their baskets and begin to search for colorful eggs and all kinds of hidden goodies.
A big banner hanging in Stonewall Park says it all, Shady Pines Annual Easter Egg Hunt. On this bright Saturday morning, families arrive by the carload. Harold and Edna Sanders find a parking place close to all the action. Their four-legged kids, Boomer and Halley are with them.
“Here we are,” says Harold. “Look at all the people!”
Edna pauses for a moment to take in the scene. She sees balloons tied to booths where people are selling all sorts of foods and drinks. “Harold, how about some hot chocolate?”
Harold snaps the leash onto the collar of Boomerang, their Australian Shepherd dog. “That sounds good.”
Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat, wears her pink harness. Edna holds her leash. “C’mon Halley. Let’s mingle.”
Holding cups of steaming hot chocolate, Harold and Edna search for the sign-up table. “There it is, Edna. It’s over by the sign that says, “Start Here.”
The Sanders’ family heads in that direction. At the same time, a group of children dressed in colorful clothes and bunny ears races past them, nearly knocking them over.
Boomer barks. “Hey, watch where you’re going!”
“We’d get in trouble if we did that,” says Halley.
Edna regains her balance. “Whoopsie. That was close.”
Harold reaches for her hand. “I think the kids are eating too many chocolate Easter bunnies.”
Edna agrees. “Look around. Hot chocolate, chocolate eggs and bunnies, jelly beans, candy. No wonder the kids are hyper.”
A woman is waving at them. “Yoo-Hoo! Harold, Edna!”
“It’s Maggie,” says Edna.
Harold recognizes the owner of Maggie’s Diner. “Hey, Maggie.”
Maggie reaches down to pat Boomer and Halley. “Hi you guys. Let’s get you checked in. I’ve got a list of the children you’ll be helping.”
Boomer barks. “Oh, boy! Halley, we’re going to round up kids.”
Halley rolls her eyes. “Boomer, I know you’re a herding expert. But this is a search thing, not a round-up.”
“You don’t know,” says Boomer.
“Do, too,” says Halley.
Maggie hands a map to Harold and Edna. It shows where each group will hunt for treats. “You folks will have 4 kids in your group.”
Before you can say, “hop to it,” the children arrive at the starting point with their parents. Giggling, squealing and dressed in Easter outfits, the kids carry baskets and buckets and are ready to go. The parents snap photos. “All right everyone,” says Harold. “Remember to look high and low all over this area.”
“We’ll be here to help. Ready, set, GO!”
At that very moment, with one big burst of energy, a whole bunch of little legs start running in all directions.
“Honey, how ’bout Boomer and I go that way and you and Halley go over yonder,” suggests Harold.
Edna looks at Harold. “And we’re actually going to help them find more chocolate?”
“Yep. That’s the plan,” says Harold.
“Halley, I bet I find more stuff than you do,” yells Boomer.
Halley yells back, “Oh, no, you won’t!”
Most of the kids start by collecting the eggs right in front of them on the ground. Others get more adventurous and try to climb trees. Three of the boys dash off through a hedge of bushes and out of bounds.
“Uh-oh. Boomer it’s time to do your thing. Let’s go round up those little whipper snappers,” says Harold.
Boomer barks. “I knew it. I told that silly cat this was a job for a herding dog.” With that, Boomer takes off.
“Whoa! Boomer! Not so FAST!” yells Harold.
Meanwhile, Edna notices one little girl sitting by herself under a tree. “Halley, let’s go over and talk to her.” Halley meows.
“Hi sweetie, says Edna. “This is Halley’s Comet, or Halley, for short. What’s your name?”
The youngster with the big brown eyes and pigtails pets Halley. “Susan.”
“Don’t you want to hunt for Easter eggs, Susan?” asks Edna.
“I never find as many as the other kids. Plus, my mom doesn’t like me to eat sugar.”
Edna thinks for a moment. “How would like it if Halley helps you find some of the real eggs that are hidden? They’re good for you.”
Susan lights up. “OK.”
It’s not long before the children’s baskets and buckets fill up with colorful real and plastic eggs, clusters of jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and more. Some of the plastic eggs include notes.
Susan finds one of those.
“What does it say?” asks Edna.
Susan unfolds the piece of paper. “It says ‘do 5 jumping jacks.'”
“Well, isn’t that clever,” says Edna.
While enthusiasm for the hunt is still strong, some of the children start to peter out. They’ve been searching for a long time and are getting tired. A few of them sit on a park bench together.
“How many chocolate eggs did you get?” asks Betty.
“Um. A bunch. But I got a lot more plastic eggs with candy inside,” answers Ellen.
“I got some of those. But these have carrot sticks in them,” says Tim.
“Hey, does anyone want my jelly beans?” asks Simon.
“I’ll trade you some jelly beans for some of my chocolate eggs,” says Betty.
Harold and Boomer catch up with Edna and Halley. “Hi, honey. How did things go for you?” asks Harold.
“It went well,” says Edna. “Some of the kids got really competitive. I had to remind them there was plenty for everyone and they should be nice to one another. What about you?”
Harold strokes Boomer’s head. “Well, there was nearly a fight over a big chocolate egg. And, our favorite cattle herding dog had no trouble rounding up some wayward boys.”
“I told you Halley. I told you I’d have to round up somebody,” says Boomer.
Halley shakes her head. “Oh Pah-Leeze. You’re such a hero.”
“I know,” says Boomer.
“I was kidding,” says Halley.Harold hugs his wife. “That was fun. But what do you say we head home?”
Edna smiles. “Why not? We need to figure out what we’re going to have for Easter dinner this year.”
“Let me guess. We’re not going to have chocolate cake?” asks Harold.
Edna winks at him. “Not Eggs-actly!”
And that’s where we leave the Sanders family as they make their way home to Dogwood Drive across from Copycat Lane in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.
How will you stage your Easter Hunt this year if you have to be at home? Got any creative ideas you want to share? Write your ideas in the Comments section below!