Olathe & Southwest Joco

Celebrate Olathe! signals spring has sprung

Children, ages 3 and under, ran to snatch up eggs during the Easter Egg Find at Celebrate Olathe!
Children, ages 3 and under, ran to snatch up eggs during the Easter Egg Find at Celebrate Olathe! Special to The Star

Now you see them. Now you don’t.

Two minutes was all the time it took for more than 5,000 prize-filled eggs to disappear at Celebrate Olathe! on a recent spring evening.

More than half an hour ahead of the hunt, around 500 children, ages 3 and under, gathered at the Olathe Community Center’s lawn, eagerly listening for the horn signaling it was their turn to dash out and get to the eggs before the competition did.

One of four annual events, spring and Easter were the themes of Celebrate Olathe! held April 7.

Those who missed the fun and games can catch the other three celebrations scheduled for 2017.

On July 7, the Olathe Live Series will feature Liverpool and Funk Syndicate at the Park. On Oct. 27, children can trick-or-treat around Stagecoach Park. Dec. 1 is the winter event, and will feature the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting. All Celebrate Olathe! events are held at the Olathe Community Center and Stagecoach Park, and are all free. 

This was the third year for the Celebrate Olathe! Spring event. It snowed the inaugural year, and temperatures were near freezing last year, so this year’s sunshine and mild temperatures were very welcome, said Nichole Asquith, Olathe Parks and Recreation communication specialist. Approximately 3,500 people attended Friday’s evening, she said.

The event, held April 7 at the Community Center and its adjacent Stagecoach Park, was a combination of indoor and outdoor interactive games and activities, including face painting, cookie decorating (and eating), goat rides, a rubber duck dive, bounce houses and a photo booth.

Parents and children also had the chance to learn about Olathe’s 2017 youth summer camps. Community partners and contractors showcased their upcoming schedules, including camps and workshops focused on engineering, architecture, the arts and nature adventures.

One of the most popular visitors Friday evening was the Easter Bunny, much to the surprise of the bunny himself, played by recreation specialist, Joey Manhnieo.

This was Manhnieo’s first year as the big white rabbit.

“I thought the kids would be afraid of me but they weren’t at all,” he said. “They just came up and petted me. They said they wanted to see how fluffy I was.”

The goat-pulled wagon rides were also popular, though not so much with one stubborn goat.

Despite encouragement from his owner, he would reluctantly pull the wagon a couple of feet and stop. He’d move another foot or so, and stop again. Finally, the goat dug in his hooves one last time and proceeded to lie down in the middle of the park trail, much to the surprise of his wide-eyed, 3-year-old passenger.

Asquith said the Celebrate Olathe! events are a collaboration of the entire Parks and Recreation team. Throughout the year, the group works with City of Olathe Special Events Coordinator Chris Stewart, to plan the events,which are each attended by 3,500 to 5,000 visitors.