Scores turn out for Kiwanis Easter egg hunt

Margaret Allen
Hays Daily News
Audre Yarmer, 9, right, and Alexa Seib, 10, wait with hundreds of others for the start of the 47th annual Kiwanis Easter Egg hunt on Saturday morning on the Fort Hays State University campus.
Hundreds of kids and parents turned out Saturday morning for the return of the annual Kiwanis Easter egg hunt on the Fort Hays State University campus.
Hundreds of kids and parents turned out Saturday morning for the return of the annual Kiwanis Easter egg hunt on the Fort Hays State University campus.

Approaching the grassy quad of the Fort Hays State University campus on foot Saturday morning, 5-year-old Cooper Randa observed with awe, “There’s hundreds of eggs.”

Holding hands with his grandma Sherry Dreher for the 47th annual Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt, Cooper explained it wasn’t his first Easter egg hunt.

“I did it once before at Walmart,” he said, his grandma looking suprised. “There were lots of eggs. I found one on the roof.”

Dreher laughed. “He’s got imagination.”

Randa and Dreher were among hundreds gathered Saturday for the annual hunt, which was canceled last year by the pandemic.

“I think people were really ready for this,” said Jayne Inlow, president of the Kiwanis Club of Hays, acknowledging the big turnout. “And we have perfect weather, it’s not even windy.”

Audre Yarmer, 9, and Alexa Seib, 10, were poised like everyone else for the 9 a.m. start, waiting on the sidewalk along the grassy quadrant reserved for ages 9-10. They had already spotted one plastic egg, sitting at the edge of the grass directly in front of Alexa’s foot.

Their strategy?

“You go as fast as you can,” said Seib, expressing some concern a little later that with so many kids, “there aren’t enough eggs.”

While Kiwanis is the official host of the hunt, it’s become a community-wide effort with Kiwanis taking the lead, said Inlow.

Besides the candy filled eggs, this year banks in town donated quarters and McDonald’s donated ice cream coupons, as well as others.

“Over the years it’s gotten a lot of followers,” Inlow said. “This is just a fun event they like to be part of.”

With cases in Hays winding down, Inlow said Kiwanis got clearance from Ellis County health administrator Jason Kennedy, HaysMed, and Fort Hays State University president Tisa Mason, who is also a Kiwanis member.

“We couldn’t do it last year, that was a little heartbreaking,” Inlow said. “We kind of checked with everybody early on before we started promoting it.”

As usual, hunting quadrants are broken into age groups, 0-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10.

But this year was a little different than previous years, said Inlow.

“We didn’t bring the Easter bunny,” she said. “We were trying to not have people congregate, and a bunch of people go up to one person.”

They also put a map on Facebook, so people could scout ahead of time the area on the campus for their age group.

“We used to all meet around the tiger and then lead them with the sign,” Inlow said. “But this year we had people go directly to their areas, so we could be a little more conscientious of social distancing.”

At 9 on the dot, given the go-ahead, kids swarmed the grass and snatched up eggs. Observed one dad: “They can’t clean their rooms, but they can clean a whole field of eggs in two minutes.”