Janaya Gutierrez, a 9-year-old Olathe resident, edged into the pool ahead of schedule. Maybe she had already spotted one of the 15 floating golden eggs.
She and 124 other area children were ready to start the Easter Egg Plunge in mid-April at the Olathe Community Center near Mahaffie Farmstead on E. Kansas City Road.
The community center has hosted the Easter Egg Plunge for each of the three years it’s been open. The center’s aquatic specialist, Shelby Peterson, that the first year they didn’t charge admission and it was mass chaos — in a fun way, of course.
This year they charged for it, limited the participants to 125 — they sold out — and nearly tripled the number of eggs to 5,000. Because the eggs are floating in the pools, they are not stuffed, though Peterson and a coworker still had to snap all of them together.
“Each kid will pick the section they’re most comfortable with — so they can go in the 2 feet, up to the deep end over there,” Peterson explains just before the countdown. Any child 5 and under must be accompanied by a swimming adult.
Though most egg-hunters had already stepped into one of several pools, the announcer counted down from five to start the hunt. As she waited, Janaya removed her face mask and put it back on again, then off again — better without it, she told her mom, Jackie Guttierez.
The Guttierezes have lived in Olathe for four years and Janaya plays soccer and basketball through the city. This is the first time they’ve attended the Easter Egg Plunge — Jackie found it on Facebook.
The hunt began and the 13,000-square-foot natatorium filled with laughter, screams, whistle-blowing, and the occasional parental encouragement from the sidelines: “There are more over there! Go that way!”
Afterward, 10-year-old Ethan Long, of Olathe, said swimming definitely made this a more challenging way to hunt eggs.
Given the choice between the traditional way or this, he replied, “I would do the pool because it was a lot more fun — but the park would be easier.”
Ethan thinks he collected about 80 eggs. He turned them in for a goodie bag, a cookie and a pool pass.
Janaya gathered around 80 eggs in her plastic basket, emptying it into a bag her mother was holding each time it began to overflow.
Her two golden eggs got her a bonus gift. She selected a purple ankle jump rope and tube of brightly colored Easter candy.
Would she do this again next year? Absolutely.