COLUMBIA — When Cameron Cross turned on his siren Saturday, kids of all ages ran around Douglass Park collecting as many colorful plastic eggs as possible.
With bags, baskets or buckets in their hands, the children sprinted to their assigned areas to pick up the candy-filled eggs.
By the time all the eggs were gone, 5-year-old David Gutierrez had a full bucket.
“I just run,” he said, explaining his success.
His brother Fernando, 10, didn’t have as much luck. His bucket was lighter.
Even so, he said egg hunting was his favorite part of the day.
Saturday’s Eggstravaganza at Douglass Park has a long history, said Cameron Cross, who works for Columbia Parks and Recreation.
This is the fourth time he has helped organize the event, and he said he plans to continue.
“It takes plenty of planning, money to buy all this stuff and a lot of patience,” he said.
This year, the sunny afternoon weather brought more kids to the park.
“Last year (the weather) was miserable,” Cross said.
Other than temperature issues, he said he has never encountered real problems. Some children always get pushed in the haste for eggs, he said, but he has never witnessed any injuries.
To minimize mishaps, Cross explained, the hunt is divided in three age groups — ages 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Each group has an assigned area, and no one can start until they hear the siren. He also asks parents to remind their children not to push.
“There are eggs for everyone,” he said.
At first, 3-year-old Andrew Fox didn’t understand what was going on. His father, Paul Fox, helped him negotiate the younger kids’ area, while his mother, Deborah, kept an eye on Andrew’s 5-year-old sister, Sarah.
After the hunt, the park emptied quickly, although some children stayed to play games, such as the Bunny Hop, and have their faces painted. Andrew and Sarah Fox also stood for pictures with the Easter Bunny.
“ (Deborah) keeps her eye on stuff like that to take the kids to,” Paul Fox said.
The Easter egg hunt at Douglass Park was one of several planned for the holiday weekend.
Two church-sponsored hunts are scheduled today: the Crossing Kids Easter Egg Hunt at 8:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. at the Crossing Church, 3615 Southland Drive; and the Calvary Episcopal Church Easter Egg Hunt at 10:15 a.m. at 123 S. Ninth St.