Parents lept to social media this week after a chaotic egg drop event at a local park where a helicopter rained down candy-filled plastic eggs in celebration of Easter.
“It was awful, I don’t even know how to describe it,” said Maria Phillips, an egg drop participant and mother of a 2-year-old. “It was like when Mufasa got killed in the ‘Lion King.’”
The drop, sponsored by the Bridge Church in Columbus, featured a helicopter dropping candy-filled eggs into a field for children to then search for. But many parents left feeling overwhelmed and disappointed.
The event, as advertised on Facebook, was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. Saturday. Parents said the egg drop did not begin until sometime between 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m., so at that point many kids were tired and hot.
Amanda Walters brought her children, aged 4, 6, 9, 11 and 16, in hopes of making fun memories.
“I’m sure The Bridge just meant for this to be a really great thing to do for the city and it’s just sad how the people of the city behaved,” Walters said. “The adults just acting like a bunch of animals out there, it was like a stampede.”
Parents said a volunteer made announcements over a microphone, but it was hard to hear everything they were saying because of crowd noise. Parents also said once volunteers helped organize children into lines based on age groups, there were no volunteers seen directing people onto the field.
“There was no one down at the fence to stop people from throwing their kids over the fence or pushing through the fence,” Phillips said. “I saw one little girl, she had to have been like maybe 3 (years old), she went flying right into the fence.”
Walters said she spoke with a volunteer who said the drops would be done in stages to give children in each age group a chance to hunt. But that did not happen.
As the helicopter flew overhead for the first drop, Chelsea Gillens, mother of a 7, 8 and 2 and a half year old, said it dropped the eggs into the middle of the field instead of in the first section. From that point on, it was madness.
“Nobody controlled their children,” Gillens said. “My kids had to fight for eggs with kids three times their size. At one point, there was a grown woman on the floor, laying on the ground. It was madness and they’re just little Easter eggs with candy in them.”
And that was only the first drop. Children and parents were still on the field when a second round of eggs dropped onto their heads. Dust was flying, people were getting hit in the head and it was a scene of chaos, Gillens said.
“It was actually really painful, I was really shocked,” Gillens said. “I spent a lot of the time hunched over covering my 2 and a half year old’s head. We got attacked by kids bigger than my 13-year-old, like they had facial hair.”
Once the drops were over, many children could not find their parents. Walters said her husband found a young girl who was crying and shaking because she was separated from her family. He brought her over to his wife and helped her reunite with her mother.
Phillips and Walters both acknowledged that the church had releases for parents to sign before participating, but Phillips said there was “no way” they got everyone at the park to sign.
All three mothers interviewed said the parents were a large issue in the whole event. Adults were on the field hunting eggs right alongside children, scooping up eggs and then giving them to their kids.
Another issue was the large amount of trash generated during the event. Parents said kids were throwing the plastic eggs back on the ground after pulling the candy out. There were also hot dogs and trash on the ground at the end of the event.
Parks and Recreation Director Holli Browder said her department had nothing to do with planning the event or executing it. She said the call received on Tuesday from a Ledger-Enquirer reporter was the first she had heard of any problems.
Browder said when an organization uses park property, they are ones responsible for cleaning after an event. A representative from the Parks and Rec department then goes back the next business day to check on the status of the park. If there are any issues, they work with the organization to make corrections.
Browder said she isn’t usually involved in that process, but if there are any major issues or complaints, they come across her desk. She had not heard anything regarding the Bridge Church’s use of Lakebottom.
A representative with Bridge Church declined to comment before speaking with her pastor when contacted on Monday. No one returned calls to provide a comment.