By Tricia Pursell
MIDDLEBURG — Up to 400 children waved, jumped and cheered as the Easter bunny made his way to Charles Park on Saturday.
He didn’t hop on in.
He didn’t dig his way up.
Rather, he descended in a helicopter.
The grand entrance was part of a community Easter celebration, the result of a combined effort of the Reliance Hose Company and Middleburg Moose.
“We just thought it would be nice for the fire company and the Moose to get together to do this,” said Butch Hackenburg, fire chief.
The fire company never before held an Easter egg hunt, he said. The Moose usually had its own.
“We just decided to do a community thing,” said Terry Arbogast, Moose administrator.
“That’s what we are,” added Mike Walter, Moose treasurer. “This is community service for the kids.”
And the children were out in full force. Walter estimated about 300 to 400 people in all came to enjoy the celebration.
“Twice as many as we expected,” he said.
Arbogast said the organizations were also giving prizes, including five free helicopter rides for the older children.
The helicopter is what drew Albert and Julie Hartley, of Beavertown, who were there with their 6-year-old daughter, Jasmine.
And 4-year-old Donte Heckman definitely knew why he was there.
“I’m gonna egg hunt,” he said as he pulled on the arm of his mother, Tina, as they walked to the field where the eggs had been placed.
How many eggs was he going to get?
“All of them,” he answered.
It was her children, 2-year-old Mason and 4-year-old Halia, along with the pleasant 70-degree sunny weather, that drew Beavertown resident Amy Lang to the event.
“This is the first year we’ve been able to do an Easter egg hunt without jackets on,” she said.
Suzanne Gemberling, of Middleburg, worked for the Moose for eight years. The mother of three brought her 6-year-old daughter to the field, and was helping to hide eggs just before the hunt began.
“There are a lot of eggs out there, I know that,” she said with a laugh.
About 30 volunteers from the fire company and the Moose helped to make the event a success. They spent six hours cooking the 200 dozen eggs on Thursday, and then several hours after that to color them all.
“And in two minutes, it (the field) will be cleaned out,” Walter joked of the crowd of kids waiting anxiously on the outside of the yellow border tape.
The Schweitzer 300 helicopter that carried the Easter bunny belongs to Summit Transport Services, of Middleburg.
The business may have a special connection with holiday personalities. There was talk on Saturday that it may be bringing Santa to town during the Christmas season.