As Great Bend prepared to celebrate Easter weekend, a pair of events kicked the weekend off Saturday with boxes and barrels of sweet treats. Hundreds of kids of all ages turned out in droves on a sunny day for two local Easter weekend traditions.
Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt
Early in the morning, chillier than normal temperatures greeted kids and parents lining up along the north side of Veterans Park along the walking trail for the annual Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt.
Volunteers from the Kiwanis Club arrived an hour early to prep the grounds, and scatter seven cases of Easter candy throughout the grass between the north and south walking trails. The Easter Bunny was also out early, greeting early arrivals to the morning’s hunt.
As in the past, an officer from the Great Bend Police Department sounded the siren to send the kids and their parents off through the grass hunting for candy. As soon as sirens sounded, hundreds of eager kids chased down the sweet treasures while their parents helped them capture the memories.
With masses of young hands chasing candy treasures, the morning’s event took less than five minutes from start to finish.
New this year, in addition to loads of candy, “special” eggs hidden throughout the grounds contained opportunities for special prizes for kids of all ages from the Easter bunny.
First-time event head Lee Ann June said there are no exact records on how long the event has been held, but said it has been going for at least the last 27 years. Having brought her own children to the event in the past, June was excited to see the kids with their easter baskets back out for this year’s event.
Despite the cooler temperatures, June was pleased with the positive turnout for the event.
“I think it went well,” she said.
Beginning around 1 p.m., the Encounter Church on South Patton Road provided some “friendly fire”, launching blasts of candy from air “candy cannons” constructed by Great Bend’s Aaron Apley.
New Children’s Pastor Megan Tate, also was in her first year hosting annual event. This year’s event once again drew throngs of youngsters on an unseasonably cool afternoon. “(Turnout) has been great.”
Tate estimates the cannons fired off roughly 100,000 pieces of sugary sweets for this year’s event. She is not sure how long the church as been putting on the event, but estimates it has been over ten years. The first couple years of the event, they held it at Great Bend High School’s Memorial Stadium, but since then it has been hosted at the church on South Patton Road.
For the event, as in past years kids were separated into age groups, to be able to spread kids out, and so smaller kids would not have to compete with bigger kids for candy.
Tate said it takes a crew of roughly 40 volunteers to put on the event each year. “We’ve got an amazing crew that (helps) get ready.”
Prior to firing off the candy, the church also entertained kids and parents waiting their turn for the candy blast with upbeat songs, games, and prize giveaways in the sanctuary prior to the event.