Children scoop up Easter goodies at Ellis Park
By Kathy Chaffin
Six-year-old Brittney Mills spotted the colorful eggs at Ellis Park from atop the hill overlooking the softball outfield.
“Tyler, they’re everywhere!” she shouted to 3-year-old Tyler Beacham.
Brittney was right. There were hundreds of plastic eggs and thousands of candy eggs in plastic wraps scattered around the four areas roped off into age categories.
Eager egg hunters and their parents began gathering at about 10:30 for the 11 a.m. hunt.
Susan Jarvis waited with her 4-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle, and 2-year-old grandson, John Michael. Isabelle, who held a pink Easter bucket, eyed the candy, which she said was her favorite part about Easter, while John Michael, whose bucket was green, took in the whole view at his first egg hunt.
Five-year-old Lee Jarvis, who had a blue bucket, waited for the hunt to begin in another age category with his mother, Haley Jarvis. Though he slept through the whole thing, 4-month-old Ivan Jarvis even had his own bucket, and it was yellow.
Not far away, Brittney Mills had staked out her place in front of the orange caution tape keeping children from the eggs until time for the hunt to begin. “She can’t wait to get out there,” her mother, Deena Mills, said.
Brittney tried her best to get Tyler Beacham excited. “Eggs are everywhere,” she exclaimed again.
It was also Tyler’s first egg hunt. He was accompanied by Louise Teal while his father, Roy Ward, watched from a wheelchair at the top of the hill. Ward had just gotten out of the hospital, where he was being treated for a collapsed lung.
Three-year-old Anaya Blakeney waited for the egg hunt to begin with her cousin, Tonya Wilkins. Anaya said she was only going to pick up two eggs.
When asked if she had talked to the Easter Bunny standing a little farther down the field, she said, “He didn’t give me a hug.”
Her mom, LaToya Litaker, walked up, and Wilkins told her what her daughter had just said. Litaker smiled and said, “She was scared of the bunny. She wanted to go see him, but she was apprehensive. She was like, ‘Mommy, will you go with me?’ ”
This was Anaya’s second egg hunt this year. She participated in one at her daycare last week.
Three-year-old Rylee Payne waited for the egg hunt to begin with her parents, Monica and Mikey.
Finally, it was time for the hunt to begin, and the children and some of the parents headed for the eggs. Within minutes, many of the baskets and buckets began to fill up with plastic eggs and candy.
Several minutes later, Rylee’s aqua-colored basket and Anaya’s pink bucket were still empty.
“These two you talked to aren’t getting anything,” someone said. Rylee’s mother tried to encourage her. “You can win a prize if you pick up the eggs,” she said.
Though she had only planned to get up two eggs, Anaya had yet to pick up any.
Four-year-old Ian Castelvecchi was taking his time picking up candy and was in fact, already enjoying some. His mother, Michelle, said he threw the plastic egg shell the candy came in back on the ground after retrieving what she thought was a Tootsie Roll.
Ian’s father, Anson, and his two younger brothers, 2-year-old Mason and 4-week-old Tanner, who slept through the whole thing, were also at the egg hunt.
Nearby, 4-year-old Avery Hunt and his 2-year-old brother, Addison, seemed pleased with their collection of eggs and candy.
“This is the first time they’ve ever been on a hunt,” said their mother, Sibyl.
It didn’t take long for all of the eggs and candy to end up in buckets and baskets. All around, children and parents were excitedly opening plastic eggs to see what was inside.
Most had candy, but Brittney Mills found two bracelets, and she wasn’t even through opening her eggs.
Ashley Lisenby and her 2-year-old son, Samuel, sat down on a picnic table to go through his eggs. This was also Samuel’s first egg hunt, and he fared quite well.
Over by the concession stand, 6-year-old Charlie Durham and 7-year-old Graison McCorkle posed for a photograph with the Easter Bunny. Charlie held a stuffed bunny he won in the hunt.
Eighteen-month-old Cole Wallace seemed quite proud of the collection of “balls” in his football-shaped Easter bucket. His parents, Heather and Jeremiah, said he called all the eggs “balls.”
Though this was his first egg hunt, Cole was ready to go. “He kept trying to get across the line before it started,” his father said.
Cole’s days as an only child are about to end. The Wallaces said his younger brother is due in August.
Craig Farmer, who supervises Ellis Park for the Rowan County Parks and Recreation Department, said the annual egg hunt is usually held on Easter Monday, but they had to break tradition and hold it earlier this year as students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System start back to school Monday after a four-day spring break.
“I was concerned about all the rain we had last night, but everything went off great,” he said.
Farmer said about 150 children participated in the annual hunt, which is co-sponsored by the Franklin-Ellis Lions Club and Rowan Parks and Recreation. Several hundred plastic eggs filled with candy and prizes were spread out for children to pick up along with 12,960 candy eggs.
The Ellis Park annual egg hunt has been held for about 25 years.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.