TRIANGLE — Blake Hellandbrand sat on the side of a hill at Locust Shade Park and laughed at Matthew, her 3-year-old brother, as he searched for plastic Easter eggs.
“Hes so weird,” Blake, 11, said as her brother squatted near an egg and grabbed a handful of grass to put in his basket. “Hes falling all over the place and not even getting any eggs,” Blake said through her giggles. “Hes coming back with twigs.”
Indeed, the side of the small hill at the park seemed a bit difficult for the 3- and 4-year-olds to negotiate as they stopped and gathered pastel-colored eggs scattered by volunteers from Triangle Baptist Church on Inn Street in Triangle on Saturday.
The church has been sponsoring the annual egg hunt for the past four years, said church members Buck Schlegel and Richard Pyle, who were operating the shuttle van between the parking lots and the festivities at the parks amphitheater.
Pyle said the church also borrowed some parking space from Hildrup Moving and Storage so they could get more people inside the park for the free Easter egg hunt.
“Last year we had to turn 250 cars away,” Pyle said.
“I think they had over 1,500 [people] last year and theyre expecting more this year,” Schlegel said as he cruised the parking lots looking for riders to take to the hunt.
The men said the Rev. Mark Byrd initiated the annual hunt soon after he arrived to lead the congregation.
“Its getting to be a bigger and bigger event each year,” Pyle said.
“Ive seen a lot of happy kids out here, but I think the preacher looks forward to it more than anybody,” Schlegel said.
Byrd carried a portable bullhorn to announce the availability of balloon animals, face painting, a moon bounce and the egg relay; he was difficult to pin down for comment.
Anthony Smith brought his son Shaun to the egg event. Shaun won first place for his age group in an egg relay and scored nine eggs during the melee some called an egg hunt.
“It was all of the fourth- and fifth-graders together,” Anthony Smith of Stafford said. “They just ran in. It was kind of a mob scene.”
Shaun said the hunt was easy despite the heavy competition.
“They hid them in the woods under leaves and stuff,” Shaun said.
Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Michael Shingler and Staff Sgt. Bill Squires were given the task of hiding the eggs. They said children got points for the eggs they found.
“However many eggs they pick up, we write it on their tickets and they get prizes for that,” said Squires.
Shingler added: “Everybody gets stickers and a lollipop.”
Shinglers wife, Nancy, pointed out there was also a bonus egg in each hunt.
“If you find the egg with the ears you get a special prize,” she said.
“Its not really an egg with ears. Its a bunny head,” Shingler said, as he showed his wife the little plastic rabbit.