By JEROD CLAPP
> SOUTHERN INDIANA — The PA system wouldn’t turn on, and the volume from the crowd’s chatter multiplied as parents children tried to hold their children back from the treasures that lay a few hundred yards away.
And although she wasn’t especially loud, the one-word command from B.J. Lynton was instantly heard and followed by every child at Colgate Park in Clarksville on Saturday.
“Go!” she exclaimed. And a crush of hunters throttled forward.
Within minutes, the 4,000 eggs that Lynton, assistant superintendent with the Clarksville Parks Department, had hidden with her colleagues were all collected and in the process of getting cracked open.
Easter egg hunts in Clark and Floyd counties on Saturday gave thousands of children plenty of eggs to pick up.
Max Sternberg, a 10 year old who got about 50 eggs for him and his baby cousin, said he’s been coming to Clarksville’s egg hunt for about eight years. He said the wild free-for-all that ensues every year is fun, even if it gets a little rough from time to time.
“I didn’t get elbowed like I did last year,” Sternberg said. “I went in for a kite, I grabbed it and I guess some other kid wanted it really bad.”
Lynton said Clarksville’s hunt in Colgate Park began about 25 years ago. She said parents who used to come to the hunt as children are now coming back with their own kids, a sign the event has become a staple for the community.
“There’s not a lot of advertising, but I think they remember that this is always on the Saturday before Easter,” Lynton said. “It’s kind of like a tradition and I think people here can just kind of count on it.”
Josh Renn, a Sellersburg resident, brought his family out for the hunt. He said after about three years of attending, he just loves seeing his kids having a good time.
“I think at least for kids, they enjoy seeing the Easter Bunny and running around,” Renn said. “It’s just the joy of finding the eggs and seeing what’s inside. I think it’s just great that the parks department puts this on.”
By the time the “go” was given in New Albany for its egg hunt, the fog had lifted and made way for a clearer, warmer and brighter day. But the hunt followed Clarksville’s example in the level of the kids’ enthusiasm.
Kathy Wilkerson, interim superintendent for New Albany’s Parks Department, had functioning speakers to work with. And the 214 children on hand at Bicknell Park had no problem hearing their cue. About 6,000 eggs were picked up in 12 minutes.
Wilkerson said the parks department held the hunt at Sam Peden Community Park for about 20 years, but to generate more interest in the department’s programs and raise awareness for the city’s other parks, she said they’ll probably move the hunt from park to park every year.
“It’s just to help show where the parks are in town,” Wilkerson said. “A lot of people live in town, but don’t know where the parks are. So we’re just trying to bring some attention to them.”
After children collected the eggs, they turned them in in exchange for a bag of candy, then got a juicebox and a picture with the Easter Bunny.
Kevin Wilkerson, 47 of Clarksville, brought his family to the hunt. He said though the format is different than what he grew up with, he thinks his kids had a good time.
“There’s very few places where kids can just go out and be involved with other kids,” Kevin said. “There’s really no Halloween anymore, it’s so structured you just have to go to the stores these days. But this just lets them be with other kids without any intrusion from anyone else.”