By Marcella Kester, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE – Children and their families took part in following a “bunny trail” that led to Peter Cottontail and other Easter-themed activities throughout the downtown area Saturday, as the city held its annual Easter Egg Hunt on Public Square.
Hosted by the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association, hundreds of children and their families gathered on Public Square shortly before 10 a.m. in preparation for an Easter egg hunt that would kick-off the event. As families began to surround the bandstand, DWBBA volunteer and Anthracite Newstand manager Samantha Bennett urged the crowd to chant the word “bunny” as the Easter Bunny made his way from a city fire truck to the crowd.
Tables of prizes filled the space, ranging from stuffed animals and candy to bicycles and games that were donated by local businesses and community members. The egg hunts were broken up into age groups, with each group getting a chance to receive some “prize eggs” instead of candy.
As the Easter Bunny helped to scatter eggs across Public Square for the hunt, families gathered around as children eagerly awaited the signal to start snatching eggs. As Manhattan resident Gael Zafrany watched her four year-old son, Avishai, pick up eggs she said she was impressed with the city’s event.
“We’re actually visiting from out of town, and I thought it was something fun for them to do,” she said of the hunt.
Across the square, Regina Corchado, of Plains Township, brought her three daughters to take part in the day’s festivities. As two of her children went egg-hunting in the six to 10 year-old group, she said so far her first experience with the Wilkes-Barre Easter hunt has been a good one.
“We came down because we thought it was going to be fun and the weather is beautiful,” she said as her daughter ran up to show her all of her eggs. “The turnout was great, it looks like everyone is having a good time.”
As children began to search their eggs for a prize ticket, five year-old Asa Sposto, who grabbed an egg with a prize ticket, was pushing a new black and blue Schwinn bicycle off the square. His mother, April, said this was their first time at the Wilkes-Barre hunt and decided to participate because of the rules and guideline the DWBBA set.
“We decided to try it because we heard they don’t let the parents in,” she said, noting that Asa was knocked down by a parent during a prior year’s egg-hunt at another location.
Bennett said that as a teacher, she noticed more parents going in and taking eggs off children to give to their own and realized a change needed to happen. She said she’s happy to hear that families are appreciating the “no parent” rule.
After the hunts were completed, families were able to take a “Bunny Trail Map” leading to 10 different businesses throughout the downtown that were participating in the event. From decorating a sugar cookie and story time at Barnes and Noble to meeting the Easter Bunny at Boscov’s and getting your face painted at the F.M. Kirby Center, families lined the streets as they waited to take part in the day’s games and activities.
Barnes and Noble store manager Renee Lutz said the business enjoys participating in events that brings the community together, as well as inside the store.
Kingston resident Tara Marie DiRodricco waited in line in front of the F.M. Kirby Center with her family as friends as they waited to get their faces painted. She said the event is an annual family tradition that the children enjoy with a variety of things to do throughout the day.
“My family and I get all the kids together every year to come around and do the activities and the Easter egg hunts and see the bunny,” she said. “They always enjoy group activities and spending time together and getting out of the house.”
Bennett said the annual event is growing each year. With the help of participating businesses either donating prizes or putting on activities, the mixture of the city working with its downtown businesses is what makes the annual event such a success.
“We all really enjoy doing this because it’s for the kids,” she said. “We get so many kids and families who truly appreciate it.”