Kids scramble for prized eggs

March 30, 1997


Staff Writer

BOONSBORO - Easter comes only once a year; this year, it came an hour late.

Confusion over the start time led organizers of the annual Easter egg hunt in Shafer Memorial Park to delay starting the search at noon as scheduled.

But once the event got under way at 1 p.m., dozens of children wasted no time hunting for candy and prize eggs strewn about the park.

Actually, it was more like a mad scramble.

"It doesn't take very long," said Dave Witmer, commander of American Legion Post No. 10, which sponsored the event. "It's something to watch."


As the children stuffed their bags and baskets with candy, some also found plastic eggs a worthy discovery. Nestled inside those eggs were tickets to prizes including games, Frisbees, stuffed animals and other toys.

While the delayed starting time was frustrating for some, it was a life-saver for others. "I came late," said 12-year-old Matthew Bergey.

There were fewer children on Sunday than in past years, although Witmer said he does not know why.

To the children, the suppressed numbers were a blessing for one big reason - more loot.

"It's better because there's not a lot of people," said Michael Kelley, 11.

Daniel McDonald held a bag stuffed with his catch, but no eggs.

"A lot of bottle cap things and a lot of suckers and bubble gum," he said. "The eggs are the most important things."

Jason Manning saw a darker side to Sunday's fun: Cheaters. He lamented that the delay gave some kids time to scout out the prizes' hiding places.

But Jason said he still had a good time Sunday. "Your friends are here," he said. "It's fun talking to them and seeing them."

The American Legion post has sponsored the event since 1992, Witmer said. Each year, he said he has tried to outdo the previous production.

"Each year, it gets bigger and bigger," he said. "We've been trying to improve it each year, adding more candy and more prizes."

The Easter egg hunt has a long and rich tradition in Boonsboro. The Antietam Jaycees revived it in the late 1970s and handed it off to the American Legion a little more than a decade later.

Before that, town residents said the tradition was dormant for about 15 years. But many of the adults running the event remember how they looked forward to it as children.

When he was a boy in the 1950s, Jim Rand said the Boy Scouts sponsored the Easter egg hunt. At that time, the scouts stood in a wide line and marched in unison across the park, he said. Every few yards, Rand said they would all kneel, but only some would place an egg on the ground.

That way, he said, no one knew for sure where the eggs were.

Rand also said it was a much more formal affair, with everyone in their Easter Sunday best.

"When I was a kid, everybody came right from church and we were all dressed up," he said. "There were no blue jeans."

Some adults never quite lost that youthful sense of adventure. Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr., who emceed the hunt, said he likes do a little hunting of his own after the event.

"I like the peanut butter candy, myself," he said. "Usually, there are one or two pieces left. But those kids are great scavengers, let me tell you. They don't leave much."

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