Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 29, 2013

GAME ON! Annual egg hunt brings joy to local children

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Waiting for her teacher, kindergarten instructor Casey Shaw of West Side Elementary, to hand out snacks, egg hunt veteran Summer Tolbert was a little concerned about the Easter Bunny's skill at hiding eggs.

“He didn't hide them very good,” the five-year-old said, with a serious look on her face. “We could all see them when we got here.”

Summer and her kindergarten classmates were treated to a special egg hunt Thursday at Nichols Green II park, where their parents spread out nearly 1,000 brightly colored plastic eggs on the grounds as part of the Jacksonville school's annual holiday tradition.

According to www.history.com, the egg is “an ancient symbol of new life … associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.” However, the site adds, “(f)rom a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus' emergence from the tomb and resurrection.”

The tradition of decorating holiday eggs dates back to “at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration,” according to the site.

For children at Thursday's egg hunt, though, it meant celebrating together in a fun way.

Shaw said her students look forward to the event, becoming more excited as the day drew nearer and showing up at the hunt with pink noses and black bunny whiskers drawn on their faces to celebrate the occasion.

“Some of them don't get to do this at home, (so here) they get to hunt with their friends, and they really enjoy that,” she said.

While Summer and her friend Charlotte Johnston, 6, said they liked the different colored eggs, they thought “the pink peace-sign ones were the prettiest.”

“They are like so awesome,” Summer enthused, as Charlotte chimed in, “they are the prettiest ones!”

Cherokee County youths will have ample opportunity this weekend to participate in Easter egg hunts, as various churches and organizations are hosting events to celebrate the Paschal holiday.

In Rusk, the Texas State Railroad will sponsor egg hunts today and Saturday as part of its Easter Egg Express which departs from the local depot both days at 11 a.m. and at 2:30 p.m. The Easter Bunny will make an appearance, with live entertainment, games, a duck race, bunny hop races, a hay ride and other events planned.

Rusk's Cherokee Trails Rehab and Healthcare Center, 330 Bagley Road, will host a 3 p.m. egg hunt for children ages 13 and under. The event also features drawings for Easter baskets and other prizes.

Saturday events include:

The community Easter Eggstravaganza at Jacksonville's First Baptist Church will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m., for children in third grade and younger. The church is located at 210 Philip St.

A community egg hunt for children in third grade and younger at the Jacksonville Tomato Bowl. The 1 p.m. event – hosted by Woodland Heights Baptist Church and Gardendale Rehab and Nursing Center – includes special prize eggs and refreshments.

Sweets and treats are part of  2 p.m. egg hunt at Mission Tejas State Park, 120 State Park Rd. 44 in Weches. Visitors are asked to bring their own baskets for hunting, with special Easter basket prizes awarded. The park assesses a $2 entree fee for those ages 13 and older.

The Afton Grove Baptist Church Easter Egg Hunt will be held from 2-5 p.m. at 360 CR 4208, Jacksonville. The event features a re-telling of the Easter story as well as games, booths, candy and prizes.

On Easter Sunday, an egg hunt and family picnic with games and activities for the families will be held after a 9:45 a.m. service at Covenant Church on the Hill, located in Rusk on U.S. 69 North.

In Dialville, the local United Methodist Church will hold a homecoming on Sunday, with an 11 a.m. worship led by Rev. Raymond Ross Vermillion, Pastor, at 11 a.m. Afterward, a covered dish dinner and egg hunt will be held on the church grounds.