For decades â€“ longer than any of the longtime volunteers from the Oaks Bottom Lions Club could remember â€“ 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 â€“ and in a big way! â€“ thanks to the combined efforts of several volunteer groups, led by the nonprofit Sellwood Community House.
"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.
"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.
It was impractical to count the number of people who attended: The astonishingly huge crowd was friendly and cordial as the kids lined up â€“ divided by age group â€“ 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 â€“ and it shows that we are truly better together," smiled Fryer. Here's a brief BEE video as the egg hunt got underway! youtu.be/PGUTF9WlgWw
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