Helicopter delivers prize eggs for those who fill Lazy 5 Ranch

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
MOORESVILLE — The Lazy 5 Ranch put on its Easter bonnet, so to speak, for Saturday’s third annual Easter Eggstravaganza.
Four times throughout the day, a helicopter flew from nearby Miller Air Park to drop thousands of colorful plastic Easter eggs on an open field.
Just before 1:30 p.m., outside the roped-off acre or so of ground, kids from 1 to 11 waited patiently with baskets, buckets or shopping bags, listening for the chopper.
After it appeared over the trees and made two passes, hardly before the last eggs had plopped onto the ground, the first kids were off into the meadow.
It was an orderly stampede.
No pushing or shoving, but lots of children scampering with glee, and lots of encouragement from grown-ups.
That’s because it wasn’t meant to be a typical egg hunt, Lazy 5 employee Sarah Beth Rogers said.
Rather than collecting as many eggs as possible, she said, to make it fair for everyone, the goal was to collect at least one each of all six different colors.
All the eggs of a certain color could be traded in for a prize, no matter how many of a kind were found.
But there were plenty of eggs, and prizes, to go around, Rogers said.
“We didn’t do any candy. We figure they’ll get candy elsewhere,” Rogers said.
Other events included professional face-painting, door prizes, a petting tent with live bunnies and a scavenger hunt.
By following clues to different animal exhibits on the walking trail, Rogers said, kids could collect stamps and redeem them for a free pass to the park.
For Michael and Lafaye Groves of New London, the Easter event was also an early birthday gift to their granddaughter, Lexi.
She turns 4 Monday.
Lexi’s parents, Tony and Cheryl Groves, had traveled all over the park starting about 10:30 Saturday.
“It’s really, really good,” Lafaye Groves said. “You get a lot for the money, and the people are nice.”
As she waited in line for the face-painter, Lexi thought carefully about which animals were her favorites.
“The zebras,” Lexi said at last, very seriously.
Before she could fully explain why, it was her turn to hop into the chair and have her face painted with pink-and-yellow tiger stripes.
Mason Dodrill, 7, collected all six eggs and got a bag full of prizes in return.
He showed off a mask, a puzzle and a kaleidoscope, among others.
“We’ve come here many times, but never for the egg drop,” his father, Scott Dodrill, said.
Michelle Dodrill said they’ve attended egg hunts and drops before, but the Lazy 5 event “seems to be much more organized.”
Rogers said care was taken to explain that kids didn’t have to collect a lot of eggs to get a prize.
Henry Hampton, owner of Lazy 5 Ranch, said about 10,000 eggs were dropped at a time.
As they were turned in for prizes, the eggs were gathered and sorted, then trucked back out to the helipad for the next go-around.
Hampton said he thought the event was becoming a new tradition for many families.
“There’s a lot of people talking about it who have been here before,” Hampton said.
Last year, he estimated about 4,000 kids and adults came for the Easter Saturday event, which is free with regular admission to the ranch.
This year, though employees had no official numbers, they believed they might easily break that record.
The park opened at 8 a.m., with the first egg drop at 10:30 a.m.
The turnout was massive throughout the day, Rogers said.
At 1 p.m., cars stretched about four-tenths of a mile up Mooresville Road, moving at a crawl as the line into the park spilled out of the gates.
There was still a shorter line of cars near 4 p.m., and a staff member in the park’s trading post could be heard telling callers that there was still an hour’s wait to get in.
The event was staffed by all the park’s regular employees and many volunteers from among their families and friends, Rogers said.
Also, Rogers said, 15 employees from The Farm at Walnut Creek in Holmes County, Ohio, were on hand.
She said those from the Amish-run farm, which she called “our sister park,” were there to observe the egg drop in preparation for their own future event.
Rogers said the event was meant as a way to say thank you to regular guests.
But the Easter Eggstravaganza also drew many from throughout the region, as far away as the town of Angiers, near Raleigh, and Mint Hill.
For Desi and Malik McKoy, who drove their sons up from Charlotte, the egg drop was a good way to spend the day
“On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10,” Malik McKoy said.
“It’s enough of a crowd to be fun, but not so much of a crowd to be miserable,” Desi said.
For sons Chandler, 6, and Brennan, 3, the reward was a stack of prizes and some family memories.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.