1,700 Easter eggs go quickly


Children search for eggs during the annual Waldo Easter Egg Hunt on March 30, 2013, at the Waldo Farmer's & Flea Market in Waldo, Fla. The Easter celebration featured the Easter bunny, face painting and an Easter egg hunt.

Elizabeth Hamilton/Correspondent
Published: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 6:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 6:57 p.m.

The Lewises decided to divide and conquer.

Chad Lewis went in one direction with their son Xavier, 3, while Amber headed in another with their other son Hayden, 2.

The strategy paid off.

All told, the two children found 49 eggs — some of which they gave to latecomers or those who couldn't find any eggs. After all, Chad Lewis said, his kids had found plenty and Easter is for kids to enjoy.

"Kids deserve to have their days of fun," he said. "That's absolutely the way it should be."

Xavier was fascinated in particular with one egg he found, which was larger than the others.

When they were finished, they started to go through their eggs to see what was inside. Xavier went right for the large egg, and inside he found a bag of Sour Patch Kids.

"Oh my God," he exclaimed, drawing out each word slowly.

The Waldo Farmer's and Flea Market held its sixth annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. The free event, which was for children 10 and younger and their families, featured 1,700 hidden plastic Easter eggs containing candy and prizes, a scavenger hunt and free pictures with the Easter Bunny.

As the egg hunt neared late Saturday morning, children excitedly marched with their families to the taped-off field, which was filled with props such as car tires, palm fronds and hay. They wildly threw aside the planted foliage and investigated the inside rims of the tires while loudly announcing their finds.

Within a half-hour, most children were sitting on the ground rummaging through their collection of eggs to see what each egg contained, while others took pictures with the Easter Bunny.

"It usually doesn't take them real long," said Sally Blakewood, who owns the flea market along with her husband, Steve. "It's amazing how quickly they can find those eggs — they're good."

Once finished, children who had found scavenger hunt prizes in their eggs, which were slips of paper containing a vendor-booth location, began to search throughout the market so that they could find the booths and receive their prizes. Prizes included anything from trading cards and goldfish to jewelry and shark's teeth. Some children even found slips that awarded them a free round of laser tag at M2 Battlesports, which is on the flea market property.

Steve Blakewood said that the vendors, many of whom are retired, get a kick out the event.

"It puts people in a good mood," he said. "It's just a feel-good thing."

In addition, one gold and one silver egg were planted on the field. Children who found these eggs won a cash prize — $50 for the gold egg and $20 for the silver. According to Sally Blakewood, no special thought was given to how these eggs were planted because they wanted them to be equally accessible to everybody.

"Instead of it being the hardest to find, it's just who's luckiest," she said.

A drawing will be held today for those who registered, and winners, who will be notified by email, will receive $50 or a pre-made gender-themed Easter gift basket containing toys, books and games.

More than 200 children registered for the event, which is about 50 more than registered last year, Sally Blakewood said. In the event's first year, organizers only planted 800 eggs — this year they planted 1,700.

"It just keeps growing every year," she said. "And every year we keep adding eggs … The month prior to (this), the whole office is covered with Easter eggs."

Organizers began packing the eggs more than a month before the event was held, and the props are put out in advance, said Dan Pascale, the Blakewoods' son-in-law, who works at the flea market and helps to plant the eggs every year.

On Saturday morning, eight people took shifts planting the eggs, which took about three hours. No special thought is given to selecting spots to hide the eggs other than making use of the props. Thought is given more to creating an even distribution, Pascale said.

"We try to get them out and as dispersed as much as possible so that — while you do (have) that main flow — the ones (who) are kind of straggling late or wandering off, they all can get something somewhere," he said. "So (that) there's not really a golden-pot zone."

One of the reasons for the events success, Sally Blakewood said, is the flea market's rural location.

"We kind of pull from a hundred-mile radius," she said. "So we get kids from all different (areas), and it gives a lot of kids who live out in the rural areas (who) don't necessarily belong to a town or whatever a chance to come and do stuff."

The Lewises, who drove from Ocala for the event, went home with a heap of candy and a slew of prizes, including pogs, change, trading cards and an arrowhead, and they plan to return next year, Chad Lewis said.

"We had a good time, you know; we got a couple of free gifts, the kids are enjoying themselves and I haven't spent a dollar. You can't beat that," he said.

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