Hyde Park Easter festival offers egg hunt, petting zoo and a lonely Easter Bunny

04/20/2014 10:08 PM

04/20/2014 10:08 PM

His arrival was met with little notice and even less excitement. There was no applause for the headliner or his fairy tale pal.

“Easter Bunny and Humpty Dumpty coming through!” Amelia McDaniel announced through the bullhorn to the crowd of hundreds as the bunny and his accident-prone sidekick headed to their respective posts at Sunday’s 17th annual Spring Frolic and Egg Hunt in Hyde Park.

As the entourage shuffled by, Rick Wright turned to his 3-year-old daughter, Grace, and asked, “Did you see Humpty Dumpty?” to which Grace smiled and said “Humpty Dumpty, yeah!”

Not one word about the rabbit.

Just where in the pecking order the Easter Bunny fits has always been something of a vexing conundrum.

Now with Santa Claus, there’s never been any doubt about his top-tier status. A guy with that much swag to hand out once a year? Get outta here. Santa shows up at Hyde Park, even on Easter Sunday, and the people clap their hands off.

The Tooth Fairy is someone a kid is never going to meet. But anybody with that many quarters, 50-cent pieces and dollar bills to slip under complete strangers’ pillows — just for losing their baby teeth? That’s one applause-worthy mythical figure.

Still, 15-year-old Adrian Lara, the Cristo Rey High School student in the bunny suit with its droopy ears and adorable pink tail, didn’t mind the lack of respect.

After all, he doesn’t exactly consider himself the Easter Bunny, vaunted bearer of chocolate eggs, malted milk balls and Peeps.

“Easter Bunny helper” is more his role, he said.

He helped Sunday by planting his furry behind on the middle of three straw bales in front of a colorful backdrop propped against a tree. By the ones, twos, threes and fours, kids sat next to him at the urging of their camera-wielding parents, while elsewhere in the park longer lines formed for the petting zoo, the pony rides and snacks.

And all of it, like the candy in the egg hunt, provided free by the event’s sponsors: Pilgrim Center Inc., Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, the Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department and KC Complete Auto Service.

“Smile, Easter Bunny, you’ve got to smile,” Tanisha Garner of Kansas City called out as she and her kids neared the front.

Lara forced a toothless grin as the line began to dissipate. At one point, a family asked the rabbit to leave so they could get their picture taken in front of the backdrop without him.

Then after 25 minutes of photo ops, the Easter Bunny was suddenly alone. Across the park, the egg hunt had begun.

It was a little hot inside that suit, Adrian said as he wiped his brow with one paw and stood to wipe the straw from his haunches with the other.

That’s when Christina Hentzen and her kids Roman, 7, and Aris, 4, walked up.

“Easter Bunny, do you have time for us?” she asked.

They’d timed it right, for as soon as the egg hunt was over, the line formed again. Now it was even longer than before.

Almost as long as the one to pet the donkey and the ducks.

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