Easter in the air: Egg drop brings joy to children

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2014

MOORESVILLE – When the first faint sound of the helicopter is heard over the trees, a hushed cheer goes up from the gathered children and parents.
And, when the chopper hovers over a roped-off patch of pasture, and thousands of plastic eggs are released from a sack a couple of hundred feet up, the cheers almost drown out the soft patter of the plastic shells raining down.
The fifth annual Easter Eggstravaganza at Lazy 5 Ranch began Saturday, and returns on April 19.
Sarah Beth Rogers, one of the organizers with Lazy 5 Ranch, said, starting this year, the event has been expanded based on feedback from parents.
The park increased the number of helicopter drops to 14, one every half hour, and divided them between different age groups. At the top of the hour, children from birth through age 5 go out with their parents to gather the airlifted eggs. Thirty minutes later, it’s the bigger kids’ turn, as children up to age 11 go out to gather eggs.
Starting this year, Rogers said, parents of those older kids are now being asked to stay on the sidelines so that the hunt remains fair.
But in the end, the point isn’t to gather lots of eggs, but just to get one of every color. Children earn a prize for having an egg of a particular color, no matter how many of that color they find. They know it’s still fun to fill up the basket, though.
As they stood in line to redeem their eggs for prizes, 3-year-old Princeton Hill proudly took eggs from his basket one at a time to show others, while Trey Gbenyon, 5, looked into his pail and counted.
Asked how he felt when the helicopter showed up, Gbenyon smiled and said, “I wanted to get ‘em!”
Gbenyon’s mother, April Cox, said she and her friend Yvonne Hill had brought their boys because of how fun the event looked.
On the other side of the prize tent, Miriam Welsh, 7, compared prizes with her brother, Cyprian, 4. Both got animal masks, sunglasses, plastic toys and other goodies. Their parents, Mary and John Welsh, of Gastonia, met their aunt and uncle, Doug and Susanna Johnson, of Charlotte, for a family day at the park.
“This is a really good idea,” Mary Welsh said. “There’s a lot of excitement.”
The biggest change for 2014, Rogers said, is the addition of a second Saturday. She said many parents had asked for an additional day, for those who travel in the days leading up to Easter. Rogers said on April 19, there will be 14 more egg drops — seven for each age range. The helicopter will drop eggs every half-hour from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., resuming after a lunch break with eight more drops 2 to 5:30 p.m.
Also new for 2014’s Easter Eggstravaganza is a focus on education.
In addition to the animal exhibits, food vendors and petting barn, students from two Future Farmers of America chapters are holding fundraising events while also sharing information on agriculture.
Beverly Hampton, daughter of Lazy 5 Ranch owner Henry Hampton, is a junior at North Carolina State University. This year, Hampton is also serving as a National Collegiate Agriculture Ambassador — one of 20 young people nationwide to hold the position, she said.
In addition to speaking on agricultural issues and participating in events with the national FFA, Hampton said she was back in town Saturday to help local FFA students give talks on local farming and food during the Easter Eggstravaganza. Children who visited the FFA tent got to see a program on the farms where food and other good come from, Hampton said.
“There’s so many people who are disconnected from agriculture,” she said.
Among other activities, FFA members gave visiting children watermelon seeds to take home and plant — a hands-on activity that Hampton said might help “bridge the gap.”
Adding the educational events to the family fun at the Easter Eggstravaganza was “a win-win, a double whammy,” Hampton said.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.