Last year, when I reported on the Easter Eggstravaganza, I took my (then) 13-month-old son Ryker with the hope he would join the “3 and unders” and enthusiastically hunt for candy. But instead, he watched the other kids as the candy and eggs disappeared around us.
So this year, Friday night I took a handful of candy and scattered it around our kitchen floor to work on his candy-hunting techniques. I expected that he would rush to collect. But no, he picked one up, plopped down on the floor and began to unwrap.
Not to be discouraged, I assumed that when we got to Irvine-McDowell Park on Saturday and he actually had some competition, he would pounce like a cheetah on a gazelle.
What seemed like a billion parents and children stretched around the entire outfield of one of the park’s baseball diamonds, which was a larger hunting area than last year’s. This was just one of the four hunts, which accommodated kids ages 3 and under, 4 to 5, 6 to 7 and 8 to 10.
Erin Moore, assistant director of the Richmond Parks and Recreation Department, scanned the crowd with concern.
“I’m worried we’re going to run out of candy,” she told me as I stood in the field of candy ready to snap some photos.
“I have to remind myself, there are a lot of parents out there, too,” Moore said assuredly. “I think we’re going to be alright.”
Mayor Jim Barnes counted down and all of a sudden, there were children everywhere. I remember looking through the camera lens, frantically trying to focus on a kid or two, and then it was over.
The candy-covered field I once had to tip-toe through had been picked clean, and if someone had put a timer on it, I’m sure it was in only a matter of seconds.
Ryker’s father Jimmy assisted our son in the hunt and updated me on how he fared this year. I looked in his basket and saw two plastic eggs, two peanut butter cups and an empty Tootsie Roll wrapper. An event volunteer later gave Ryker a sucker because of his meager candy haul.
But, Ryker can’t blame anybody but himself because some of those kids came out like bandits. Next year, he’ll be 3-years-old and at the top of his age group. Practice begins tomorrow, son.
I brought some cash this year so Ryker could ride the ponies.
Owsley Petting Zoo, owned by Susan Rudolph of Big Hill, brought a variety of animals.
I handed the nice man $4 and he promptly handed it back when my son lunged off the saddle and into his father’s arms before the ride could start. Oh well, maybe next year.
Ryker ran into his school buddy Stokely, 2, who attended the Eggstravaganza for the first time, said his parents Shalamar and Willie Sandifer, of Richmond.
“It’s so nice for the city of Richmond to host this event,” Shalamar said.
She probably picked up more candy than Stokely did, she joked.
Children lined up to get their photo taken with a friendly-looking Easter bunny, who later visited children in their homes made possible by an arrangement between the Richmond Police and Parks and Recreation departments.
The Eggstravaganza had all the things kids love: inflatables, kettle corn, face-painting, temporary tattoos, Ronald McDonald, a Richmond Fire truck and most of all, candy.
The event also featured clogging and karate demonstrations and games organized by Eastern Kentucky University students. And because the event was at Irvine-McDowell Park, kids had access to the always-popular playground equipment.
I asked Moore if she could estimate how many people showed up for the Eggstravaganza and to my surprise, she began to count.
We agreed the weather was near perfect (crisp and sunny), which would definitely draw numbers.
I couldn’t stick around for a final tally, but I’m sure counting that record-breaking crowd would have taken her all day.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.