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Children compete in egg hunt

March 27, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -Despite cold, damp weather, hundreds of children toting pastel buckets hunted for plastic eggs Saturday morning on the grounds of Chambersburg Memorial Park.

At 15-minute intervals, an air horn on a fire engine sounded, and different age groups rushed onto the playground. Most groups cleared the grounds of eggs in only a minute or two.

The hunt was to have included a separate time for children with disabilities. Robert Murray, assistant fire chief for the borough of Chambersburg, said he thought it was important to have the special division.

"I can't see a 5-year-old special-needs child competing against the other kids," Murray said. "They need to take their own time and enjoy it."

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While no special-needs children attended, possibly due to the weather, Murray said he will include the special-needs group in next year's hunt.

Destiny Walls, 1, attended her first Easter egg hunt with her grandmother, Star Smith of Chambersburg. She participated in the toddler-to-2-year-old group and picked up several eggs with some assistance.

Jeff Beltz, in his first year portraying the Easter Bunny, said that most of the children responded well to him. Beltz is chairman of the membership committee for the Franklin Fire Co.

The eggs were placed on and around playground equipment for the younger children; the older ones hunted for eggs in the grass and around the rocks behind the play area.

Earlier in the week, fire company members had stuffed 1,600 plastic eggs with candy. Participants were limited to three eggs each, but most were observed to have more than that. Some of the eggs contained slips of paper that entitled the finder to a prize such as games, CDs and movie passes.

Sierra Caldwell, 8, said before the hunt that she thought she might win a prize. While none of her eggs contained a slip of paper, she said she had won a prize at another hunt earlier in the week. Sierra attended with her mother, Audra Gonzalez of Chambersburg.

Along the starting line for the 10- to 12-year-old hunt, some of the children shed their jackets in order to run faster, they said.

Many tried to jump the gun - or the air horn - edging down toward the egg-dotted field while waiting for the signal.

Regina Johnson of Chambersburg brought four children with her to the park; her son and daughter, Zachary Keefer, 11, and Brooklyn Johnson, 7; and their two cousins, Ryan Hildner, 10, and Jonathan Hildner, 11, of Fairfax, Va.

Brooklyn already had found several eggs in the 6- to 9-year-old hunt and enjoyed some of her candy while waiting for the boys. "It's a fireball," she said, fanning her mouth. She said she plans to "help with the eggs" for Easter.

After the hunt, Jonathan Hildner opened all of his eggs to see if he had won a prize.

"I'm making an omelet," he said.

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