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‘Tis the season for the Easter Bunny to hop to it. Here in Terre Haute, he’s been hiding eggs at Deming Park for decades. He showed up last weekend at the little house he apparently timeshares with Santa and Sparky the Firedog.
According to Alysha Kesner, Assistant Director of Recreation at Deming Park, and seasonal personal assistant to the Bunny, originally real hard-boiled eggs were used for the hunt. However, these days the kids are after golden eggs that can be turned into a bike, and tickets for over 600 other prizes including balls, kites, games, and Frisbees. This year 10,000 plastic eggs will be hidden. Methodology is simple: trash bags are filled and taken to the hunt area and the egss are spread out.
“It’s amazing how fast they are all scooped up,” Kesner said. “Most of the eggs will be in the open on the ground while some are put in areas of a little more difficulty.”
Offering pictures with the Easter Bunny is not as old a tradition as the hunt, but it has caught on, even though pictures are three times as expensive as the everyday low price of a dollar for pictures with Santa. The difference is due to the fact that the Santa snapshots are sponsored by a mega-retailer. (We don’t want to give them advertising gratis here, but you must know who we mean.)
Kesner said that Santa sells about 200 more pictures. Considering he only works for 2 days while Santa is at the park for 6, it seems the Bunny is holding his own.
Checking out his visitors between one and two o’clock on Saturday, I found a line that held pretty steady at about two dozen adults with one or more children in tow.
Only one little girl, who looked younger than a year old, was dolled up in Easter finery: a dress with a long diaphanous pink skirt, white Mary Janes, and a brighter pink rosette bow in her hair. Most of the children, who ranged in age from infants to about ten years old, were dressed for playing in the park. A few girls had on jackets or tights in spring-inspired hues, and there were three sets of headband bunny ears.
Though the line was all outside, and there was a definite chill in the wind, there was no impatience. Hardly anyone was on a cell phone, and there was conversation between couples and among strangers. There were approximately equal amounts of single moms, single dads and couples. Some groups included a grandparent or two.
You’d think an enormous bunny standing upright would be frightening, but I saw no tears and heard no shrieks.
Easter is, of course, central to the premise of Christianity. Without the concept of resurrection, Jesus would be just another Jew crucified by Romans. It’s the idea of rising again that gives him a special status.
So, it seems the holiday celebrating this would be considered more sacred than the commemoration of his birth – if one were forced to make such a distinction. And yet there’s much more grumbling and editorializing about the commercialization of Christmas than there is about Easter. Conducting a Google search of various forms of “commercialize” both with Christmas and with Easter confirm it. Results with Christmas were two and a half to four times more than with Easter. The Bunny and his attendant Peeps seem to be getting away with their secularization. There’s probably a simple reason: people can complain about taking the Christ out of Christmas. Taking the East out of Easter just doesn’t work the same way!