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Turkey meets Easter Bunny: County event creates family fun

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Nov 13, 2020

Jackson Vocature stands ready to go in search of eggs at the egg hunt at Sam Michaels Park on Saturday. Toni Milbourne

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — The entirety of 2020 has been a bit topsy-turvy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it should have come at no surprise that Jefferson County Parks and Recreation hosted an egg hunt in November. When the pandemic hit Jefferson County in March, all of the department’s programs came to a halt, including its Easter Egg Hunt.

Instead of completely eliminating the Easter celebration from the calendar, the department’s Easter Bunny handed over all 3,000 of its eggs to Tom the Turkey, so the event could take place on Saturday.

“It was a super fun day,” said Laura Vocature, whose children, Harper and Jackson, participated in the hunt. “It was nice to have a little bit of normalcy in the day.”

The event was done through pre-registration, so social distancing could be maintained.

“We had 100 pre-register,” said parks director Jennifer Myers. “I think we had about 85 show up.”

Children were spaced out throughout the grassy area, surrounding the Community Center building at Sam Michaels Park. Each family, upon arrival, checked in and selected a spot along the boundary of the “egg location.” Spaces were distanced and marked with an orange flag. When the hunt began, children only were entered the marked off locations to grab the eggs. Beginning with just 20 eggs per child, the number of eggs far exceeded that limit and children could be seen scrambling for the colorful objects.

Once gathered, children sat to open their treasured eggs, finding little trinkets and toys inside. Each of the specifically designated areas also had a prize egg and the lucky little boy or girl who found it received a special prize from the Easter Bunny who came out to enjoy the hunt sine the weather seemed more like spring than fall.

“It was such a beautiful day,” said Peggy Sandretzky. “It was great to see all the kids out. And, of course, I loved watching my grandchildren.”

“Covid-19 changed a lot of how we view and offer programming,” Myers said, mentioning it has been challenging to offer activities where socially distancing can be achieved, while keeping within the governor’s mandated numbers allowable for events.

As the park staff looks ahead to the Christmas season, they have once again tried to think outside the box, and will offer a S’mores Christmas Cheer event, rather than the traditional Santa’s Polar Party. The event will take place on Dec. 4 and 11. Families, with up to six members, may register for a fire pit and s’mores kits, for enjoying with the holiday lights and have an opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Touch-free, social distancing practices will be in place with the Santa Claus at the event, to ensure he remains healthy to carry out his duties later in the month. Each family will visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus from a safe, six-foot distance. Photos will be permitted, so cameras are a must. Children are also encouraged to drop off their letters to Santa in a mailbox available at the event. Each child who delivers a letter will receive one in return.

To register for the Christmas event, visit www.jcprc.org.