Hopping into spring

Published 7:22 pm Monday, March 21, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Saturday almost 6,000 eggs were gathered by an enthusiastic group of children who braved the cold weather at Riverfront Park in downtown Niles to win prizes and take home treats.
The eggs were filled with candy and small items such as stickers. Many of the eggs were marked with a number to receive a prize. Prizes ranged from stuffed animals to gold dollars.
The Easter Bunny was on hand with some help from the County Civitan organization along with several other groups and many volunteers.
The Niles Wal-Mart donated a number of items for the event along with the Downtown Development Authority and Niles Merchants. Also participating in the festivities were members of the Niles Police and Fir Departments.
Due to the unpredictable weather, Flash the Fire Truck was unable to be present, but Chad Cherrone and Rory Iwaniuk were there to show the children a real fire engine. Flash, however, will be visiting the Niles Community Schools in the future along with Pokey, the Clown and Cap'n Murphy, to promote fire safety as well as bicycle and water safety.
Niles police officer, Kevin Kosten, better known to the children as "Officer," and several of his fellow officers helped pass out candy at the end of the hunt for late-comers and children who were unable to find eggs.
Children of all ages waited anxiously at the edge of the designated area to participate in the egg hunt.
When the noon whistle sounded, eggs were snatched by eager little hands and stuffed into bags, basket, and pockets. Some took the time to open each egg to see what was inside before going on to look for the next one.
Within a few minutes all the eggs had been collected.
Following the hunt, children spent the next 15 minutes or so opening the eggs to see their treasures and to line up at the claim center for prizes.
Cameron Temple, 3, was there with her mom, Jodie Temple of South Bend, Ind., her grandfather Bob and grandmother Peggy (whom Cameron calls Grandma Piggy) Wensits of Niles. After opening an egg that she had picked up and finding it empty, Cameron said with surprise, "They tricked me."
Jordan McGregor, 7, and his sister, Kamber, 11, of Niles found prize numbers on their eggs. Jordan's resulted in a basket with a full sized basketball. Kamber actually received two prize-winning eggs, but gave one to another child who didn't receive any.
Some children dressed up, sporting bunny ears on their heads. Even some of the adult volunteers donned ears for the occasion.
The Berrien County Civitan group, who organize the egg hunt each year, began meeting in the evenings in 1994, branching off from the original Niles group who met at noon. Phyllis Davis, who played an active part in this year's hunt, has been a member of the Berrien County organization for almost 19 years and is both on the board and the district board of directors.
Davis is enthusiastic about the good her organization does for the children of the county.
No doubt she will soon begin plans for next year's hunt with the help of the many repeat volunteers that made this one so successful.
And by the look on all those little faces Saturday, a good time was had by all.