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Free Easter egg hunt Saturday a Manteca spring tradition

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Free Easter egg hunt Saturday a Manteca spring tradition

Manteca Kiwanis Don Wood, Carole Reed, and Dick Prada prepare for this Saturday's free community Easter egg hunt at Northgate Park starting at 11 a.m.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 8, 2009 4:45 a.m.
It’s organized chaos.

And it’s a Manteca spring tradition.

Some 1,500 to 2,000 kids are expected to descend on Northgate Park Saturday for the free Manteca Noon Kiwanis annual Easter egg hunt.

They start arriving at 9:30 a.m., even though the actual gates to the softball complex won’t open until well over an hour later. They will come with rabbit ears, in their Easter casual or just plain every day clothes carrying baskets, buckets and bags. They have only one thing on their mind – eggs.

These aren’t just any eggs. They’re plastic eggs filled with candy that would make the ghost of Claus Spreckels smile given the fact sugar is the common denominator.

The Kiwanis chucked the old Easter Bunny dyed egg routine earlier this decade. Hard-boiling 12,000 eggs and then dyeing them was a labor of love and a lot of fun. They enlisted a small corps of volunteers to toss the colored eggs in plain sight on the three softball fields an hour or so before the 11 a.m. whistle that unleashes upwards of 2,000 running and screaming kids egged on by parents cheering or armed with cameras.

There was something just a bit disconcerting about eggs getting smashed, dropped, and sometimes left unclaimed which is a pretty rare occurrence given the fact the kids usually sweep across the fields with such an efficiency that it would make your typical cloud of locust green with envy.

To avoid the mess the Kiwanis went plastic. There were grumblings at first but nobody complains. Before it was about grabbing colored eggs and enjoying one or two and tossing the rest away. Now it is about candy – and a chance to win prizes including a bicycle for each of the three different age groups.

Each kid in the age groups gets a free ticket for a chance to win toys, Easter baskets, and age-appropriate bicycles.

The organizers are serious when they say arrive well before 11 a.m. as the whistle goes off at 11 a.m. sharp. Less than 90 seconds later the fields are picked cleaner than a shelf stocked with a hot toy on sale at 80 percent off at Wal-Mart after doors open on Black Friday.

There’s plenty of parking at Northgate Park, Neil Hafley School and McFall School but you still have to walk to the field. Getting to the vicinity of the park 10 minutes beforehand and thinking you’re going to find a parking place and on the field by 11 a.m. is about as probable as sugar-crazed kids being happy with a tofu Easter Bunny. It just isn’t going to happen.

The event is open to kids 4 to 10 years of age.

The Manteca Kiwanis are able to stage such free events thanks to the work they put in each year at the Fourth of July breakfast as well as assisting their cousin club – the Sunrise Kiwanis – in staging the Manteca Pumpkin Fair.
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