The 2021 Bethel Church Easter Egg Hunt held at Joan MacQueen Middle School on Saturday was, “a way to give the community a hug,” Pastor Greg Roedell said, after a year of physically distancing to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although organizers agreed the event had a slightly lower turnout than in years’ past— about 1,000 kids and their families showed up this year— it still stands as one of the largest in San Diego county with over 31,000 eggs scattered on the green lawn.
“It takes us about an hour and a half to spread them all out and less than a minute for those little kiddie vacuum cleaners to gather them all up,” Roedell said, laughing.
More seriously, he said it is phenomenal to be back after having to cancel the 2020 egg hunt last year due to the pandemic.
Although the egg hunt is always a major event and something of an eyecatcher to potentially invite people to attend church services at Bethel, Roedell said “with Easter being about the resurrection,” this particular year is especially symbolic and he believes the kids deserve it after such a long year without events.
While all the eggs lay waiting atop the large field, the side lot had the lineup of old-fashioned carnival-style games with kids and families gathered around to try their hand at knocking down bottles, sinking soccer balls in small openings and landing hoops on pegs.
“My favorite part is the games and how I get to run to grab the eggs,” Brooke McIntosh, 10 said.
Volunteers Brandon Petruccelli, Christopher Velen and Patty Peterson gathered together under the striped, circus tents between rounds of resetting games for kids to enjoy.
“We’re not supposed to be hugging right now so we’re doing our best to hug the kids at a distance from here,” Peterson said.
Youth Pastor Claudia Rowsell said the excitement in the air was unlike any other year.
“Being back together with the community today, the fellowship and the joy of childhood is… it is just wonderful,” Rowsell said.
Children, she said, have been silent for so long, seeing them together is like watching them lift each other up with an openness not seen in over a year.
After gathering in age groups, families were directed to stand by the grassy lawn until the Easter bunny gave the signal to start gathering up eggs. On cue, children raced onto the field to hurriedly gather plastic eggs filled with small treats and candy and load up their baskets and bags as fast as they could.