On a cool, spring morning near the banks of the Eno River in north Durham, hundreds of children lined up to hunt Easter eggs.
The hunt took place at the West Point on the Eno city park — and, if you blinked, you would’ve missed the scrum of children scouring the field for pastel-colored eggs. Nearly every egg was picked in less than five minutes.
The key to getting a lot of eggs in such a short time span was simply “running faster than the other kids,” said Jonathan Madrid, a six-year-old from Durham who had about 10 eggs in his basket.
Madrid was there with three of his siblings, ranging in age from 3 to 12, and all of them were counting their winnings. Their mother, Mercedes, looked on as her children ate chocolates from inside the eggs.
“This was amazing, everything was under control,” she said, noting that none of the children were too aggressive and that everyone “had a great time.”
It was the Madrids first time coming to the event, but they all said it wouldn’t be their last.
The West Point on the Eno Easter Egg Hunt has become an annual event for the Durham Parks & Recreation Department (DPR), and the department’s staff has gotten the event down to a science — splitting the children up into five age groups, from as young as 1 to as old as 12.
The hunt was B.Y.O.B. (bring your own basket), and for those not as successful in the field, DPR set up a crafts station, a face-painting booth and a roaming Easter Bunny for kids to take photos with.
“We probably had about 2,000 eggs hidden out there, and there isn’t a single one left.” said Cassandra Bennett, a recreation assistant supervisor with DPR.
Karen Heller, a Durhamite who came with her 4-year-old daughter Emma, said this year’s egg hunt exceeded the last year’s.
“It’s better than last year’s, when the children were more aggressive and fighting for eggs,” she said, noting how calm it was on Saturday. “You always get sad when (a child) doesn’t get an egg because they aren’t aggressive enough.”
She applauded the DPR staff for being watchful of that and helping less aggressive hunters find eggs.
Her daughter Emma, however, didn’t seem to have any problems finding her own Easter eggs. She had more than a handful in her basket — and like most children present, she was quickly devouring the chocolate and candy prizes inside the plastic shells.
The most prized possession on Saturday, though, was the golden egg. Only one golden egg was hidden for each age group, and for those lucky enough to find one, it came with a prize of a giant chocolate bunny.
For the 3 to 4-year-old age group, Layla Riley, 3, of Durham was the only one to come away with the golden egg.
She said she found it underneath the root of a tree, and the chocolate bunny she received for her efforts was nearly as big as she was.
“She won’t let go of it, she’s so proud,” said Debra Riley, Layla’s grandmother.