Local businesses, service clubs and volunteers are working together to provide Sebastopol families with a pandemic-safe version of a decades’ long Easter tradition.
The Sebastopol Easter Egg Hunt to Go, which began last year during the early months of Covid-19, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3 outside Toyworks in Sebastopol.
During normal circumstances, local children participate together in an annual Easter egg hunt organized by the Kiwanis Club in Ives Park and going back 40 years; they would compete to find eggs hidden all over the park, with different areas designated for different age groups. Each year, a volunteer also dons an Easter Bunny costume to take pictures with participating children.
Beginning last year and continuing this year, however, organizers will provide bags with a dozen eggs and other Easter goodies to participating families, who can then set up the hunts for their children at home.
“Peacetown Family Village, Kiwanis Club of Sebastopol and Toyworks are coming together to bring you the Sebastopol Easter Egg Hunt To-Go,” the Eventbrite page for the event states.
“On Easter you can lay them out to have your own Easter Egg Hunt! The bags will have pre-filled eggs, local resources and lots of fun.”
Analy High School Leadership and Speech and Debate Club students have been working to assemble the bags, and will help distribute them on the day of the event. In addition to regular eggs stuffed with candy, bags may contain golden eggs, with prizes such as “cookie vouchers” to the Sebastopol Cookie Company, or gift certificates to Screaming Mimi’s.
The event will also feature the musical stylings of Mister Music, a local music teacher and performer.
While families won’t be able to participate in the same way as usual, organizer Elizabeth Smith, who has been involved in organizing the Christmas Snowflake Hunt and the Peacetown Family Village, among other things, said the festivities, while not ideal, will still allow for local families to engage with their community.
Smith said this especially important given the negative effects the past year of the virus has had on mental health and community.
“This is an opportunity to buffer toxic stress, provide resources that families may need, promote family engagement, community connection and give the children a positive childhood experience,” Smith said.
In addition to Peacetown Family Village, the Kiwanis Club and Toyworks, 14 other businesses and organizations, such as the Sebastopol Cookie Company, Screamin’ Mimi’s and Shoes 4 Kidz are helping out. Smith said the financial contributions, collected by the Kiwanis Club, are what will make this year’s festivities able to serve 160 families compared to 130 last year.
“We’re able to serve even more families this year because of the sponsors who’ve made it financially possible,” Smith said.
Patty Stacks of the Kiwanis Club, said she and other club members were happy to work with Smith to get some semblance of their Easter tradition up and running.
“Last year, when we couldn’t do it, Elizabeth stepped up and said she wanted to do something. So, we gave her the bunny costume,” Stacks said.
The club, which usually hosts the annual Third of July fireworks show as its primary fund raiser, had to get creative last year with an online auction to procure funds for their work with Sebastopol students. The online auction was a success, raising $20,000 for projects like providing students returning to school with refillable water bottles and offering six $1000 scholarships to graduating area seniors.
Stacks said local businesses and organizations were extremely receptive to sponsoring the Easter Egg Hunt. “No one said no to me,” Stacks said.
At press time, Stacks was still looking for a volunteer to wear the bunny costume.
Families interested in participating are advised to register through Eventbrite. As there will be a finite number of bags, priority will go to those who register first.