After weeks of relentless winter bombardments, Easter dawned in Kansas City in an unfamiliar, nearly forgotten way. Could that really be the sun, shining from an azure sky?
And with perfect timing, the Hyde Park Spring Frolic and Egg Hunt at 38th Street and Gillham Road lured hundreds of children and families out of their winter hibernation to meet the Easter Bunny, hunt for chocolate-filled eggs and just soak up the short-sleeve weather.
“It’s a chance to get out and enjoy the spring,” said Jake Bond, who was finishing a picnic in the park with his wife, mother and two children. He said his family lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and the egg hunt was the big draw for his 3-year-old daughter, Margot. He especially liked the fact that the egg hunts were segregated by age, so older kids couldn’t monopolize the chase.
This year’s free event was sponsored by the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department and Hyde Park Neighborhood Association along with the Pilgrim Center, a nonprofit youth-oriented organization, the Paul Mesner Puppets and MAC Property Management, which is renovating numerous midtown apartments.
Easter Sunday is a good day for the event, said program coordinator Amelia McDaniel of the Pilgrim Center, because so many other organizations have their Easter festivities on Saturday. And in recent years, this Sunday event has been blessed by the weather gods.
“This is the third year we’ve had such good weather,” she said.
Last year, it was almost too hot, pushing 80 degrees, said Amelia’s husband, Fred. That made for some sun-burned faces and a lot of melted chocolate eggs.
“This is great,” Fred McDaniel said.
Actually, with a mild breeze and temperatures in the mid-60s, it wasn’t just great. It was perfect. Even the forsythia and magnolias were starting to bloom. They may get a rude awakening today as a cold front moves through, possibly bringing more rain or even a short burst of snow. But that could be winter’s last gasp, as sunny, mild weather is expected to return by Wednesday.
For Sunday in the park, the festival brought a wealth of activities, including face-painting, pony rides and balloon sculptures. Kids also got to swing and run in the grass to their heart’s content. But the main attraction was clearly the egg hunt.
With 6,000 eggs distributed throughout the park, there were plenty for every child.
“Remember to be nice,” Amelia McDaniel admonished. “There’s no reason to fight over eggs.”
And the children heeded her warning, with minimal crying or tantrums. In some cases, little faces were as smeared with cotton candy as with the chocolate from the eggs.
For the youngest toddlers, hunting for eggs was the last thing on their minds. They were just finding their balance and testing their tiny legs on new sprigs of grass.
The Easter Bunny was also a popular draw and seemed to prompt fewer meltdowns than Santa sometimes can, despite the long lines to hug the bunny.
“I like the fur and I also like the ears,” said 5-year-old Kaydence Mendez.
“I like the nose,” chimed in her 4-year-old cousin, Miguel Lara.
Their grandfather, Fabian Tinner, heard about the event through a notice at the library. He worried that the park might be too soggy from a recent storm, but he was pleasantly surprised.
“It’s a great day,” he said. “It’s a celebration for the children.”