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Chopper brings Easter treats from above

April 03, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Plush cows on parachutes provided by Chick-fil-A are dropped from a helicopter for kids in the 3 and under age group Saturday during The Church of Martinsburg's egg drop at Poor House Farm Park.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Piloting his Vietnam-era OH-23 helicopter, Mike Hampshire has helped law enforcement agencies hunt for robbers and search for lost children in the past, but Saturday, as he hovered over Poor House Farm Park, it was the children's turn to do the hunting -- for Easter eggs.

"I've done other functions, dropped pingpong balls, candy at Halloween," Hampshire said. "This was the first time I dropped Easter eggs."

The plastic eggs were dropped by the thousands, emptied from trash bags handled by Joe Hamblin, a volunteer with The Church at Martinsburg, which sponsored the inaugural event. Volunteers for the church were not sure how many children registered, but "it was at least a thousand 3 and under," Rachel Dorminy said.

There also were drops for children ages 4 to 7 and 8 to 12, volunteer Diane Eddy said. All of those children were brought by parents, grandparents or other adults, leaving the parking lots of the park packed, while others parked precariously along the shoulders of Poor House Road.

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There really was not that much hunting for the children to do. It was more of an egg scramble as they bolted into the field, where they grabbed up as many of the candy-filled eggs as possible.

"He had two or three in each hand at one time," Victoria McFalls of Martinsburg said of her son, 3-year-old Elijah. He ended up with an admirable haul of about two dozen.

"It was a surprise to see how many people showed up," said Victoria's sister, Tabatha McFalls. Mother Dawna McFalls said her family accounted for about a dozen people at the outing.

"It was a little crazy at the end, but it was a great day," said Robin Coburn of Gerrardstown, W.Va., who also came with her children and other relatives.

After the egg drops, children still were lined up to get onto the inflatable games that surrounded the field.

The helicopter also was used to drop cow key chains on parachutes supplied by Chick-fil-A, one of the sponsors of the event, but the rotor wash for the aircraft sent some into the trees and a pond, volunteer A.J. Roberts said.

While this was the first year for the egg drop, it also is the first year for The Church at Martinsburg, which began meeting in a home and now holds services in the Regal Cinemas on Foxcroft Avenue, said its pastor, Jacob Atchley.

"On Good Friday, we talk about what we did to God, and on Sunday, we talk about what God did for us," Atchley said after helping a lost girl find her family. This was the church's way to reach out to the community to spread that message, he said.

Roberts remembered a somewhat cryptic message from Atchley a few months ago. At the time, the idea of the egg drop had not been announced to the congregation, he said.

"'OK everyone. Pray for a helicopter,'" Roberts said. "That was all he said."

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