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April 20, 2014

Clark County parks officials look to grow Easter events

But first: Unleash the annual Easter egg hunts

CLARK COUNTY — Before the eggs were released from the helicopter, Savannah Beck had a couple of ideas of what she wanted out of her Saturday.

“I’m just looking forward to having fun with my sisters and stealing their candy,” Beck said.

Beck, her two sisters Emalee and Miley and her mother Judy were just four of the thousands who came out for Easter egg hunts across Clark County on Saturday. They attended the helicopter Egg Drop at Vissing Park in Jeffersonville.

But parks departments are looking at doing more than giving kids a chance to wrestle for goodie-filled plastic eggs. As their respective events grow, they’re trying to figure out how to make their events more fun for the whole family.

 JEFFERSONVILLE

Sara Schutz, director of Riverstage and special events for Jeffesronville Parks, said last year’s flashlight egg hunt was a lot of fun for kids.

But with sunrise service the next day, even the promise of coffee and donuts at church still made parents groan on Easter morning, or kept them from coming at all.

That’s why this year, Jeffersonville Parks opted for something during daylight.

“We wanted to offer something unique that would set us apart from other Easter egg hunts,” Schutz said. “We wanted to make it change to a daytime event and bring in a family element to it.”

She said parents had to register online because the department wanted an idea of how many people to expect when children were unleashed on the eggs in the park’s baseball and softball diamonds. Ultimately, they had to cut it off at 2,000 registrants. That’s not including parents.

She also said they wanted plenty for families to do before everything got started. Registration was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., but they opened the gates about 20 minutes early because a line was already wrapping around both of the shelter pavilions.

Bouncy castles, face painting, hot dogs, ice cream and lots of other activities helped parents and children have fun before the egg drop, along with the playgrounds.

“A lot of people kind of hang around before the event,” Schutz said. “We wanted to give them something to do while they waited.”

Judy Beck said the registration and check-in processes went as smoothly as she could have imagined and her family hopes to come back next year.

“I’d never heard of anything like this before with [Jeffersonville Parks],” Beck said. “Usually, people just go to their church for this, but I like anything to get kids out and involved.”

CLARKSVILLE

As usual, once the hunt was on, it wasn’t long before it was off.

For more than 25 years, Clarksville Park’s annual Easter egg hunt at Colgate Park brings children by the hundreds, eggs by the thousands and ends within minutes. Families hang around for a little bit, but they’re usually gone within 45 minutes.

Next year, Ken Conklin said he hopes that changes a little.

“Some have asked if we could add more to it, which is why we’re doing what we’re going to do next year,” Conklin, marketing and programming coordinator for Clarksville Parks, said. “We want to include more family members and some of the older kids with the games and that sort of thing.”

After six months on the job, he said he’s learned what to expect from the hunt, but he hopes to change it just enough to bring it in with the department’s new mission of better serving families in the area.

Next year, it won’t be as big as Jeffersonville’s hunt was this year, but it might look a little more like it.

Conklin said they’re examining all kinds of options. This year’s 6,000 eggs were gone quickly with about 200 kids on the age-designated fields, but he said he hopes to bring bouncy castles and games for the older kids next year.

“That’s kind of our new mission.,” Conklin said. “The idea was to increase Clarksville’s offerings in terms of festivals and family events. You see a lot of them in Jeffersonville, New Albany and Louisville, but we haven’t done too many big events in the past.”

Micah Martin, Jeffersonville, watched his son, Bryce, get some eggs. When Bryce came back, he said he might have gotten 10,000 eggs, but Micah guessed it was closer to 24.

But he said Bryce had fun this year and plans on returning.

“The mediator was really good and the kids had fun,” Martin said. “It was well-organized, the Easter Bunny is here, everybody is sticking around and getting a picture and even the fire trucks are here. Everyone’s having a good time.”

Heather Rodman brought her two daughters, Sadie and Kylie, with her husband, Chris. She said her girls had a blast, but the idea of making the event bigger and better doesn’t sound bad, either.

“That sounds awesome to me, it sounds like a lot of fun,” Rodman said. “This is actually our first time out. We got the invite and we’re very pleased with it.”

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New Albany's 11-12 All Star team take a moment to thank the crowd during New Albany Little League's send off to the Great Lake Regional tournament in Indianapolis at Mt. Tabor in New Albany Wednesday evening.

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