Easter celebrated with community-wide events

Apr. 2—The city of Jacksonville hosted its first community-wide Easter egg hunt, while First Baptist Church hosted its second annual community-wide event for Troup.

Jacksonville's inaugural Easter egg hunt consisted of 8,000 treat-filled eggs scattered on the lawns of Buckner Park. A barricade divided the area into sections for two age groups, those 5 years old and younger and those age six and older.

Families began showing up half-an-hour early for the event.

Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Director Devin Fredrickson said the event was the beginning of community programs and outreach, the ultimate goal of his position. While the event may be hosted in different parks, Fredrickson said Buckner Park was chosen in order to showcase the new playground equipment recently installed.

Police and fire personnel took part in the event. Police Chief Joe Williams and Cpl. Amanda Hill gave away goodies and firemen took pictures with children and allowed them on the fire truck.

Everyone who was asked about the event responded positively, saying it was a good idea, it was a great event or describing it as wonderful. Several children, when asked under the supervision of parents or grandparents, said they had fun.

Patricia Helm was present with her grandchildren Marlee and Samantha Whitaker, Elijah Wooldridge and Lailoni Helm.

"They had a good time, " she said."They all have full baskets."

Trena and Travis Light attended the event with their children Chloe, age 10; Mickey, 9; and Zoey, 7.

"I love it," Trena said of the city's first egg hunt. "It brings the community together."

The children insisted they were not too old to enjoy an egg hunt.

"They'd do it everyday if they could," Travis Light said.

The family had participated in an egg hunt hosted by Twin Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center the previous day and had another planned at home for Easter Sunday.

"We are so excited about the success of the first City of Jacksonville Eggstravaganza," Fredrickson said. "We had such an amazing turnout, and with over 8,000 eggs, the total hunt lasted 3 minutes! This will be an annual event for the community, and we look forward to growing the event and even hosting it at multiple parks throughout the city."

Fredrickson estimated 125 to 150 children participated, with an overall attendance between 215 and 225 people.

First Baptist Church hosted a community-wide egg hunt for Troup, in cooperation with The Gospel Barn.

"We do it to serve the community," said Preston Lindsey, pastor at First Baptist Church.

Donuts, juice and water were offered during the event.

Prior to the egg hunt, Lindsey told those gathered that Easter was about Jesus and how he came to die on the cross for the sins of all people. Then he rose from the dead on Easter morning.

An estimated 2,000 to 2,500 treat-filled eggs were spread out in various areas for different ages. The hunt itself was divided into three age groups: prekindergarten and younger, kindergarten through second and third through fifth.

Nicole Hernandez, whose daughter Adlee Hills participates in the church's children's ministry, said she loved the egg hunt and praised the children's program at First Baptist.

Jonna Rust is a member of the children's committee who helped organize the event.

"I have kids myself," Rust said. "It's just fun."

She said the egg hunt provided an opportunity to teach the real meaning of Easter.