Egg hunters crowd Pine Valley center

Nearly 100 children find bunnies and fun at Manchester event

April 04, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Nearly 100 children gathered yesterday in Manchester for the local park foundation's annual Easter egg and scavenger hunt, turning Pine Valley Nature Center into a playground for youths eager to take part in the springtime tradition.

Some youngsters got to the center long before the eggs were hidden in mulch piles and under trees. The early arrivals waited eagerly while the eggs were hidden by members of a local Boy Scout troop.

The event was so popular that organizers ran out of eggs for the little ones to find in less than 20 minutes. Children of all ages were given free bags of jelly beans when they arrived at the nature center.

"We tried to have something for everyone, from toddlers to teen-agers," said Sharon Hughes, treasurer of the Manchester Parks Foundation Inc. and organizer of the event. "We were just shocked at how many kids showed up."

Two egg hunts were held. Brent Hahn, a shy 3-year-old from Hampstead, found 12 eggs hidden on a grassy hill, and won in the infant to 4-year-old age group. His reward was a small green stuffed rabbit.

There was a tie in the egg hunt for children ages 5 through 9. Two girls, Kelly Poe and Brianna Stefanelli, both 8, each won an Easter basket brimming with fruit snacks, crayons, coloring books and candy.

"It was a lot of fun. I want to do it again," said Brianna, who came to the egg hunt dressed for the occasion. She and her sister, Julia, 5, wore headbands with pink and white rabbit ears.

A scavenger hunt was the highlight of the morning for children ages 10 to 15. Riddles and maps challenged 10 teams of children who searched the center's trails to find a hidden stuffed animal.

"Some of the clues were easy, some were hard. The best part was finally finding the rabbit," said Melissa Reprogel, 11, who was on the winning team. The others on the team were Heather Becker, 11; Christi Becker, 13; Sarah Becker, 10; Rachel Rhoten, 13; and Jenna Granger, 10.

"The scavenger hunt gave the older children a chance to explore the nature center," said Hughes. "We wanted this event to be educational as well as fun."

Volunteers had dyed the 200 eggs with natural ingredients -- red beets, blueberries, onion skins, paprika and turmeric. Hughes and another nature center member, Ellen Rugemer, explained how the eggs had been decorated.

"I really like the way they dyed the eggs," said Janet Stefanelli, Brianna and Julia's mother. "I just used food coloring this year, but next year I think I'll try the natural dyes. It's more time consuming, but I think it will be worth it. The kids love to learn new ways of doing things."

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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