It was the day before Easter, a sunny Saturday morning in Central Park. Toddlers wearing bunny ears or sun hats wiggled in the arms of their parents, insistent to get down, eager to begin Santa Clara’s 40th Annual Easter Egg Hunt for toddlers through eight-year-olds.
Families began arriving at 9 a.m. for face painting and balloons. Uniformed Santa Clara police officer Stephen Selberg was like a rock star, with kids and parents alike lining up to have their picture taken with him and his cool Chevy Camaro SS, purchased with seized drug money. Selberg gave the kids high-fives.
Twelve thousand candy- or toy-filled plastic eggs—donated by South Bay Church in San Jose—were strewn around one end of the park, where the children were grouped by age around the perimeters of large roped-off circles of grass.
Volunteers—including members of Boy Scout Troop 394 and of the California Scholarship Federation and Miss Santa Clara Outstanding Teen Tiah Esquibel and Miss Silicon Valley Outstanding Teen Jennifer Smith—had scattered the eggs.
“This is a nice way to start the Easter weekend and finish the Santa Clara school break. It’s a quick hunt,” says Amanda Howell, at the park with her husband, Rafe, and their children, Alec, 3, and Amelia, 8.
Youngsters pulled against the restraining hands of moms and dads. A toddler with a pumpkin-shaped Halloween basket escaped from his mom and ran into the circle, where the multi-colored eggs were hidden in plain sight, making it more of an egg grab than a hunt. A boy hugged a cardboard Eggo box he had added a handle to, turning it into a square egg collection basket.
Then moments before 10 a.m., Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews climbed onto a stage and thanked the city and volunteers for making the Easter egg hunt possible. He counted down: “Five, four, three, two, one, go!”
The only problem was, few people heard him. Because at the first sound of his voice, unable to be restrained even another split second, the children—impossible to count in number—surged into the roped-off areas like roaring, unstoppable tsunamis. And then in another flash, the areas were picked clean of eggs, the hunt was over, and the waves of children receded.
“I have the privilege of counting down for the hunt, which is over in about 10 seconds,” says Matthews. “This is an amazing city event made possible by volunteers that come out every year to bring joy to the community and smiles to the faces of the children. It’s a perfect way to kick off spring.”
“It’s really fun,” says Amelia, smiling and holding her basket of eggs.