Ellie Hunt, 2, reaches to deposit an egg in her basket Saturday at the Steamboat Christian Center's Eggstravaganza Easter egg hunt. The event drew a huge crowd of children and plenty of adults to help dig through the hay to find the wealth of eggs.
Eggstravaganza in Steamboat a 'gift to the community'
Steamboat Springs Autumn Oslowski, 7, shrieked and jumped up and down as she caught a glimpse of a tub filled with hundreds of pastel, plastic Easter eggs.
“Look at the eggs!” she yelled to her friends, Kaela Pedersen and Reina Bomberski, both 6 years old.
The three girls were bursting with anticipation for their shot to storm out into the field of straw and search out Easter eggs and win prizes.
It was just before 11 a.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Christian Center’s annual Eggstravaganza egg hunt and festival, and the girls already had watched the 2- and 3-year-olds and the 4- and 5-year-olds have their turns at the mad dash for eggs.
“My favorite part is about the eggs,” Kaela said.
“You can eat the candy,” added Autumn, her feet barely touching the ground as she hopped around with excitement.
“And it’s really fun,” Reina said.
The Steamboat Christian Center has been putting on the event for a few years, but the egg hunt doubled in size this year. Tausha Gagnon, who is in charge of children’s ministries at Steamboat Christian Center, helps organize the event each year and said there were more than 1,500 people and almost 15,000 plastic Easter eggs this year.
The reason for the swell in size is because the city of Steamboat Springs opted not to fund the town’s annual downtown egg hunt this year, a nearly 40-year tradition.
The Steamboat Christian Center had no problem picking up the slack.
“We just see this as our gift to the community,” Gagnon said.
In addition to the egg hunt, there were carnival games, a cakewalk and bouncy castles. The younger children begged to have their pictures taken with a giant Easter Bunny, and many of them cried when they actually came face to face with it.
After the egg hunt, all of the registered children were eligible for a drawing, which awarded 150 new bikes, scooters and skateboards.
The church’s congregation had pitched in and purchased the prizes to give away to the wide-eyed and sugar-fueled crowd of youngsters.
Whether it was candy, a homemade cake, plastic rings, a prize basket or a shiny, new bike, almost no one walked away empty-handed.
“It’s amazing to see the community get something for nothing,” Gagnon said.
Of the thousands of people milling around the Steamboat Christian Center parking lot and side yard, not all of them were from Routt County.
Nathan and Elana, 9 and 11 years old, said they were visiting from Augusta, Ga., where the Masters Tournament takes place this weekend.
They’d rather be hunting for eggs in Steamboat, they said.
“It’s fun, and it’s hard,” Nathan said about the egg hunt. “It’s just like hide and seek, one of my favorite games.”
As each age group gathered around the field for its chance at the egg hunt, the build-up had the atmosphere of a competitive sporting event.
The children pushed at the ribbon and pointed at eggs while waiting for the green flag to fly.
In unison, they chanted a countdown, and then there were shrieks and a cloud of dust as they ransacked the field.
The spectacle was almost as enjoyable for the parents as the children.
Maureen Bomberski, Reina’s mother, said she’s taken her family to the Eggstravaganza for four years.
“I like seeing the community ... and the kids’ smiles,” she said. “It’s become a tradition for us.”