Bradenton's G.T. Bray was the place to be for egg lovers

rdymond@bradenton.comApril 14, 2014 

BRADENTON -- In every extended family, it seems one person knows where the best Black Friday deals are, which restaurants have children eat free and where the free community Easter egg hunt is taking place every year.

In the Uscanga family of Bradenton, that person is Flor Uscanga (Flor is Spanish for flower) who is married to John Uscanga and has little John, 6, and Ethan, 4.

So, early Sunday, Flor Uscanga texted her husband's sister, Ashley Uscanga, who has Jennifer, 4, and Andrea, 4, and told her about the seventh-annual G.T. Bray Community Egg Hunt sponsored by The Church at Bradenton and its army of 100 volunteers, who provide free popcorn, cotton candy, face-painting, bounce houses and 20,000 Easter eggs.

Of course, Ashley Uscanga immediately notified her sister, Sue Uscanga, who has Jasmine, 7, and her brother, Phillip, and his partner, Violeta Lazo, who have baby Phillip, 1, and her mother, Maria Picazo, who has Tracy Soto, 10, who is Ashley's sister.

Whew.

Anyway, just about every Uscanga on the planet came to the baseball fields at G.T. Bray to join a crowd estimated at 4,000 for a Sunday event that draws more fans every year.

"The kids even got to register for eight free bicycles," said Ashley Uscanga.

The Uscangas said anyone with children would enjoy the Easter egg hunt with music, free carnival food, an appearance by the Easter Bunny and the crew of the Hernando DeSoto in their boat float.

And that pleases the Rev. Ancil Abney and his co-pastor, the Rev. William Sallee, who have been with the church at 2520 43rd St. W. for 15 and eight years, respectively, and believe the Easter event is God's will.

"We believe God is calling us to leave our building," Sallee said. "We don't want to wait for people to come see us at our church so we come to them."

The church moved this egg hunt from the amphitheater area of the park to the baseball fields.

"It gives us more space," Abney said. "It was tight and now we

have room for everything."

Stacey Haught, whose husband, Philip, is the children's pastor at The Church at Bradenton, said she loves the way the egg hunt works. Youngsters redeem empty plastic eggs for a bag of candy.

"It's fairer," Stacey Haught said. "You still get a whole bag of candy no matter how many eggs you pick up."

One of the happiest children at the event was Haleigh Duquette, 6, of Bradenton, who had a yellow baby chick painted on her face.

"She attends Sunshine Academy at The Church at Bradenton and just finished first grade," said Haleigh's grandmother, Darlene Duquette.

Holly Lennon brought her children, Lana, 7; Kenley, 5; Nash, 2; and Ember, 1 along with grandma Donna Lennon.

"This is a family tradition for us," Holly Lennon said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

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