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In pursuit of eggs

April 3, 2018 GMT

There were 4,000 pastel-colored Easter eggs hidden in the grass behind the American Legion Hall in Beatrice Saturday morning and, with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker, a group of about 200 kids had the field cleared in under three minutes.

The annual American Legion Auxiliary Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday was packed with children eager to find the plastic eggs loaded with candy. A last-minute venue change due to cold weather couldn’t keep the kids away.

For years the egg hunt, which has been a tradition for around 50 years, has been held at Chautauqua Park in Beatrice. With temperatures dipping into the low 30s and with snow in the forecast, organizers moved it outside the Legion where children could warm up indoors for at least some of the event.

The move turned out to be a good decision, said Marian Melcher, children and youth chairperson with the Beatrice American Legion Auxiliary.

“The forecast looked like it was going to be cold, cold,” Melcher said. “It’s cold out there now, but they have a place to come into, so that helps a little.”

Packed into the American Legion Hall, one Easter bunny set up shop near the back door, while another posed for pictures by the bar. It was packed, but it was warm. Kids ate cookies and drank hot chocolate as they prepped to head outside into the chill, then they were signaled to take their marks.

At exactly 11 a.m., kids lined up into four groups for ages 2 and under, 3 to 4, 5 to 6 and 7 to 9, and had their baskets ready to go. A few jumped the gun, but only by a few seconds.

The start was called and they ran laughing in pursuit of plastic eggs. After just a few minutes of hunting, it was all over and done with, the grassy field picked clean of its bounty.

Most walked away with baskets, buckets and Walmart bags full of candy, but for the ones who didn’t get enough, there was a big box of 400 eggs donated by First State Bank in Beatrice.

While all of the eggs had candy, a lucky few of them had quarters inserted by the American Legion and First State Bank.

While the egg hunt usually happens at Chautauqua Park, Melcher said that there is precedence for having it at the American Legion Hall.

“When they originally started this, it was done from here,” she said. “That’s back when they had hard boiled eggs.”

The eggs have been replaced with candy-filled ones for safety reasons, but getting all those plastic eggs is an expensive endeavor, Melcher said.

They had people ask if they could return the plastic eggs once the candy had been harvested, she said. If parents are interested in returning the eggs, they can drop them off at the American Legion Hall. Melcher said the Auxiliary would also happily accept other plastic eggs that families no longer want.