By Mike Fletcher
Instead of shagging flies on the softball diamonds at Northwest Park, hundreds of youngsters took to the ball fields Saturday in search of treats during the fourth annual Youth Easter Egg Hunt.
Organizers split the kids up in three age groups, 0-3, 4-6 and 7-10, with each group designated to a diamond.
The treats were 6,000 eggs — 2,000 in each of three diamonds — sprinkled in the outfields and infields.
The youngsters lined up on the warning track of the diamonds, and with a signal from the Easter Bunny, off they went.
The under-3 age group was first. The youngsters, some carried by a parent, dashed onto the outfield and infield, picking up every egg in sight. Some were filled with candy, and others a number for a prize. In all, the city had 550 prizes to hand out at the end of the day.
Vicki Dennis and her daughter, Lilli, 6, waited anxiously for the next group to get started.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Dennis, as she watched the youngest group. “Last year, they had some nice prizes. This is something great for the kids and doesn’t cost the parents anything.”
Ryan Massey looked on from the fence, as his wife and youngest son, Colton, chased after the eggs in the 0-to-3 age group.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and have a good time,” said Massey, who has attended the event the last three years.
“The weather could have been better. It was 70 degrees last year,” he added.
The free event is put on by the city and is funded through the Adult Easter Egg Hunt, which was held after dark at Jackson-Morrow Park Saturday evening. The $5 entry fee for the adult event went toward the prizes for the children’s event, said John Martino, superintendent of the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department.
“Five years ago, the city embarked on new and creative opportunities to expand our community programs,” Martino said. “Five years ago we had 28 programs; now we have 50 involving all age groups, infants to adults.”
The Noon Kiwanis Club provided prizes and volunteers for the event.
“We appreciate everything the Kiwanis have done to help out,” said Martino.
“Last year, we had around 500 kids,” he said. “This year, we expect 500 to 600 to show up.”
Instead of having the event at the Seiberling Mansion, as in years past, the city decided to move the event to Northwest Park because of the added space and the ball fields, Martino said.
Pat Lowe brought her three grandchildren, Harlow, 3, Hannah, 8, and Henley, 6, for the fun and treats.
“I didn’t think it would be this crowded,” said Lowe as she waited in line. “It’s very nice of the city to do this for the kids.”