After two pandemic years without community Easter Egg Hunts, the Sellwood-Moreland one returns -- at Oaks Park

DAVID F. ASHTON - The moment arrives, the signal is given, and the kids are offto collect their Easter Eggs at Oaks Park! Seven minutes later, all the eggs had been found and claimed. For decades – longer than any of the longtime volunteers from the Oaks Bottom Lions Club could remember – the annual Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) Easter Egg Hunt has been a family tradition on the Saturday morning before Easter.

However, this was one of the many community events cancelled over the past two years, due to COVID-19 concerns. But this year, it was back – and in a big way! – thanks to the combined efforts of several volunteer groups, led by the nonprofit Sellwood Community House.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Traveling in from Damascus to enjoy the SMILE Easter Egg Hunt, here posing with the Easter Bunny, were the Brown familys kids. "We heard from community members that, after two years hiatus, they were hopeful the egg hunt would be revived," explained the Community Relations Director of the Community House, Erin Fryer. When invited to organize it by SMILE's Events Committee, headed by Jim Friscia, "We were able to piece together a truly collaborative community to present it."

For example, the bulk of candy was donated by the QFC Market; and volunteers from the Community House, SMILE, the Oaks Bottom Lions Club, and from Moreland Presbyterian Church together stuffed about 5,000 plastic eggs in the weeks leading up to it.

DAVID F. ASHTON - The young daughter of Westmorelands Wong family needed no help in picking up her Easter Eggs. "A new partner this year was our host location -- nonprofit Oaks Amusement Park. Their spacious, fenced-off picnic area was the perfect location to contain the egg hunt," Fryer pointed out.

Families started arriving about an hour before the actual Easter Egg Hunt was slated to begin. Many took the opportunity to get treats and a hug, along with a photo, from the jolly Easter Bunny who was on hand.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Three of the many Oaks Bottom Lions Club members on hand at the egg hunt - who every year have spread the eggs to be found - included Club Secretary Fran Shaw, here flanked by members Mary and Richard Hankins. It was impractical to count the number of people who attended: The astonishingly huge crowd was friendly and cordial as the kids lined up – divided by age group – to wait for the countdown to 11:30 a.m.

With kids running helter-skelter into the area, this "hunt" was, as usual, pretty much over in seven minutes. Families stayed on to open and evaluate their candy treasures, to avail themselves of free train and carousel rides, and to have lunch on The Oaks' Midway, before an early afternoon thunderstorm rolled through.

"This tuned out wonderfully – and it shows that we are truly better together," smiled Fryer. Here's a brief BEE video as the egg hunt got underway!

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