Easter tradition draws young at heart Adults share kids' joy of victory at egg hunt

April 07, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The children's faces light up with delight, and as you look into their wide, expectant eyes you see reflected a world where airplanes don't crash into hillsides and angry adults don't send bombs through the mail.

Children hunt for Easter eggs, and yesterday at Cromwell Valley Park in Baltimore County, a hundred or so children found 840 of them. This joyful adventure on the chilly, gray day before Easter also lighted up the faces of parents.

"You hear about so many bad things in the world today," said Sherry Dodson, who brought three of her children and one of their friends from Monkton to this spacious park on Cromwell Bridge Road. "It's nice to see something like this that's good and just so much fun for them.

"You get to see things through their eyes. They see things with such expectation and promise that it just makes you feel good inside."

Children up to age 10 hunted for eggs in bushes, under leaves and next to trees outside the Sherwood House, part of the 367-acre park run by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.

Beginning in March 1993, Baltimore County and the state began buying the park's three parcels -- Willow Grove Farm, Sherwood Farm and Fellowship Farm. Now, stretched along Cromwell Bridge Road just east of the Baltimore Beltway, Cromwell Valley Park is quiet open space for hiking, picnicking and educating children about the outdoors.

Linda Dapp, the volunteer chairwoman of the egg hunt, said society needs more events that bring families together.

"Something like this just makes me as happy as I can be," said the recreation and parks worker from Rosedale. "I just love to see their little faces light up."

Their little faces glowed, but their mouths shut tight, at least around a reporter.

Four-year-old Vinnie Dajani found a basketful of eggs, as did his 2-year-old sister, Nicolette. But when asked whether he was having fun and how many eggs were in his basket, he clammed up.

His mother, Donna, of Perry Hall prodded him. "Say, 'I ran after them. I found them in a tree,' " Mrs. Dajani said.

Finally, Vinnie said: "I found them in a tree. The blue one was stuck."

Vinnie probably didn't know it, but he and the other children at the park yesterday took part in a tradition that dates to the story of Christ's resurrection -- or even further back, depending on which of the various versions you accept.

One says that after Christ was crucified and buried in the tomb, women searched unsuccessfully for the body. In the 11th and 12th centuries, young monks began acting out that search for Christ. Later, the egg was added to the drama as a universal symbol of spring's rebirth.

Another says that, long before Christ, eggs were colored, blessed, exchanged and eaten as part of the rites of spring. The egg was regarded as a natural wonder and proof of the renewal of life. As Christianity spread, it was adopted as a symbol of Christ's resurrection.

All that meant little to the children hunting for eggs at Cromwell Valley Park. The eggs were plastic, and inside many was candy or numbers that could be exchanged for prizes.

"It's not the prizes that matter," said Mrs. Dodson. "It's getting outdoors and doing something special. It's celebrating Easter and having a good time."

After the egg hunt, and the accompanying hayrides, coloring contests and jelly-bean counting, Mrs. Dodson and her troops turned toward their car. Another activity beckoned that also spreads a little magic this time of year.

"I guess we'll head on back," Mrs. Dodson said, "because the guys got baseball practice now."

Pub Date: 4/07/96

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