COLUMBIA — Carrying pastel-colored wicker baskets in their hands, children ranging from age 3 to 10 roamed through the hillside of Stephens Lake Park, hoping to find some of the 1,600 candy-filled eggs hiding in the grass.
Thirty of those eggs were "shiny" eggs, which could be redeemed for a variety of prizes, including stuffed animals, toys, gift-cards to restaurants and softballs signed by MU's softball team members. The eggs, though brightly colored, were hard to locate since the event took place at night.
With the aid of flashlights, the children combed through the meadow as the sun set, while their parents and guardians followed closely behind, firing off camera flashes and cheering them on.
The Columbia Parks and Recreation department teamed up with MU's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism students to organize the Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt at the Riechmann Pavilion at Stephens Lake Park on Thursday night.
Erin Carrillo, recreation specialist with the Parks and Recreation Department, said that event participation was at maximum; 150 children registered and participated. This is the fourth year the department has organized the egg hunt.
An MU class taught by David Vaught, the department chair of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, has spent the majority of the semester planning the event with the city Parks and Recreation Department.
Ariel Anglin, a junior in the department, helped with the marketing efforts by posting fliers on campus and around town.
"A lot of hard work went into the event, and it's amazing to see such a great turnout," she said.
The students also volunteered to make sure the children stayed within the boundaries of the park.
Cameron Cornman, 8, found one of the 30 shiny eggs. Cameron redeemed his prize for a box of Peeps and a $10 gift card to Red Mango.
"I didn't have much luck, but at least I got one of the shiny eggs," he said. "I'm not exactly a fan of Peeps, but I love Red Mango."
The cost of participation was $7 per child. Lea Ann Cornman signed up her son Cameron because she heard from other parents that the event was a lot of fun. She said she thought it was "a bit pricey," considering the hunt only lasted about 5 minutes.
The Parks and Recreation Department is organizing a second egg hunt at Douglass Park on Saturday. The event, which will start at noon and continue until 1:30 p.m., is free and does not require pre-registration.
The event will have three separate egg hunts designated by age and will be open to children 12-years-old and younger. Along with the egg hunt, coloring, face painting and toss games will be available.