Preparing for the arrival of the crowds on Saturday, April 19, Durham’s Recreation Director Sherry Hill could not quite recall when she started running the Easter Egg Hunt.
Hill guessed that the Recreation Committee, which took over the event from the Lions Club, has been running the annual Egg Hunt for 29 years.
The recreation team runs the same system each year. “We really got it down so it’s comfortable for people,” said Hill.
A team of volunteers met on the Wednesday before Easter in the cafeteria kitchen at Strong Middle School. The 1,080 eggs, all donated by Hi-Land Farms, were dyed in pinks, yellows, greens and blues in one evening.
Even working in batches of a few dozen eggs, gallons of water, a good deal of time, and several packages of dye go into producing that many colored eggs. Days after the coloring, Recreation Committee member Sharon Criscuolo still had red dye on her fingers.
Early Saturday, the volunteers gathered again to section off parts of Allyn Brook Park for different age groups and hide the eggs. Hiding over a thousand eggs, including the 25 golden eggs that are worth prizes, takes time so the volunteers began preparing the park 90 minutes before the egg hunt.
To help with the jobs, commission members have turned running the Egg Hunt into a family affair. Megan and Alyssa Szymaszek, were on hand to help their mother, committee member Lisa Szymaszek. Alyssa worked as a “bunny assistant” for the arrival of the Easter Bunny.
Jared Munro, Criscuolo’s grandson, wore festive bunny ears and handed out flyers with instructions to families.
Past committee member Ann Figorus, was on hand with her daughter Aubrey to help. “My kids have been doing this since the day they were born,” said Figoras. “It’s part of what we love about Durham, the community spirit.”
John McLaughlin, Coginchaug Regional High School student and son of past commission chair Kate McLaughlin, volunteered in the morning as was recognized by children from the recreation summer program, where he works as a counselor.
After all the work, the Egg Hunt was over quickly, as the crowds of children scoured the park and returned with eggs to show their parents or, in the case of the gold eggs, to exchange for prizes.