Church turns G.T. Bray into Easter egg wonderland

rdymond@bradenton.comMarch 25, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Sixty thousand colorful plastic eggs spread over several fields.

A total of 3,500 free hot dogs.

Four bounce houses.

Eight bicycles and one 42-inch flat screen TV given away.

An inexhaustible supply of free popcorn and cotton candy.

One hundred and fifty volunteers trying to keep an estimated 2,000 children from Easter egg anticipation panic.

Somehow, it all adds up to Sunday's Sixth Annual Easter Egg Hunt at G.T. Bray Park, presented by The Church at Bradenton.

"There was something here for everyone," said John Monaco, whose granddaughter, Mia Perez, nearly 2, played in the new sensory experience boxes set up for toddlers by Sarah Copeman, the church's birth through pre-k children's ministry director.

Even the Anna Maria Island Privateers, the Conquistadors and the Easter Bunny were on hand.

So, why does this church go through so much to put on such a demanding event?

"We love sharing God's love," said church member Carol Lipp, who was making popcorn Sunday. "In our case, 'The church has left the building!'"

The church's co-pastors, The Rev. Ancil Abney and The Rev. William Sallee, had similar thoughts.

"I like meeting the community we are part of," Abney said. "We meet people we would never otherwise meet. It's a fun day."

Of course, the absolute best

part of the day for parents watching and kids doing, was the dash for eggs.

"It's a thrill to see their faces," said church volunteer Joanne Hibbs.

Brittney Council, whose son, Jacarri Turner, 2, collected a basket filled with eggs in the age two-three dash, said she has been telling him for days what to do.

"He was excited," Council said.

Treva Matscheck leaned down and gave strategy advice to his daughter, Cali, 3, and niece, Keira Baldwin, 7.

"I did it growing up back in Rhode Island," Matscheck said of the egg dash. "We've been talking about it for a week. Cali wants to get the most eggs."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond.

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