Last Friday, I donned a bunny suit and spent an hour hopping around my yard entertaining (or maybe scaring) the kids in my neighborhood. Ok, in all honesty, I really didn't hop all that much. For the most part I groped around. Those costumes say one size fits most and the costume did fit, but I'm shorter than most and moving around wasn't easy especially with a "head" that didn't fit all that well leaving me very little room to see.
This is the 2nd time I've put on the costume. The first was back in 2012 when I "volunteered" when the head of the division of the company I worked for at the time had the wonderful idea to have a department wide egg dying contest. We arranged for a conference room to be available for all of the morning and most of the afternoon. Eggs and decorations were provided; imaginations were encouraged. It was a blast. The two winners were presented with their prizes by the Easter Bunny (me) and then the bunny made rounds throughout the entire building. Most people had no clue who it was and despite it being extremely hot (it gave me a new respect for those cast members who were are in similar situations at Disney), I had a wonderful day. (I also had a wonderful "handler" who not only escorted me around, but helped me get into the thing...it is NOT a one person job!).
The costume belongs to my neighbor and it's been donned by a variety of people over the years as our block celebrates the holiday with an Easter Egg Hunt. I'm not sure how many years this has actually been going on, but I've been aware of it since 2006 when my son first took part (although he really didn't take too much part, but I do have photos of him with plastic eggs). 2007 is the first hunt that I really recall, mostly because my son really became an active participant. It was a cold one because he is dressed in a winter coat and hat, as are all the kids. It was done on a Saturday morning. Again, this I remember because I have a photo of my son with a chocolate filled donut. I believe it was the first time he experienced cream filled donuts and the photo says it all.
As long as my son has been alive, I can remember the annual events; although 2 years ago there was no hunt so my neighbor, Mary, who was the heart and soul of the block, got a piñata and filled it with candy (or maybe it was prefilled). She had my son and another little girl whack at it, until it finally broke and there was tons of candy to be split between the two of them.
It didn't matter how many children there were; Mary always made sure that something special happened at Easter. Which is why I wanted to make sure that the tradition continued on.
Last year was Mary's last Easter egg hunt, although we didn't know it at the time. (Maybe we suspected, but I know I didn't want to think it.) For the first time it was held on Easter Sunday because it was the ONLY time we could get just about all the kids together. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. My son ran around in his suit. We had to get to church, but I didn't want to miss out, so we went a little later. He collected his eggs, ran around without getting messy and I snapped tons of photos. It was a wonderful day and a memory that I will treasure.
Which is why I wanted to make sure that the memories continued on. I got a hold of the moms on our block (Facebook messenger is a wonderful thing) and came up with a date and time that worked best for the majority of them. (There is no way you can get everyone, but I sure the heck tried). Then the weather wasn't going to go our way, so I came up with an alternate day and time.
I bought and stuffed 100 or so eggs. (No matter how many I have from the previous year there are never enough. They break. They disappear. It might be all some sort of conspiracy.) I obsessed over the weather. (Even more so than usual.)
Good Friday came and I debated over and over again. It was warm, but cloudy. There were scattered showers. Saturday was supposed to be sunny, but cold and windy. The ground would be damp if I had it Saturday. But it would be damp if it rained too much on Friday. I obsessed some more over the weather. I checked the forecast every 15 minutes. We were scheduled to begin at 6 PM and by 4:45 it looked like no rain until 7:30, so we were go.
I climbed into the bunny costume a little before 5 (too early, as I now know). I'd forgotten how bulky and hot it could be. I thought I could put it on and go put out the eggs. That way if anyone saw me they'd see a bunny. Great thought; not so great in action. As it was I had three older girls in the neighborhood (an older sister of one of the young ones and her two friends) come to our yard and "hide" the eggs. I think I scared the you know what out of them when I came out. (They weren't expecting me).
Hanging around the outside gave the kids a chance to see me and get used to me prior to the actual "event." Even I have to admit that the bunny is a little scary looking. Our next door neighbor had a chance to observe from her front window. She was definitely nervous. I kept waving to reassure her. It worked for a while...that is until later when I approached her baby brother who promptly broke out into screams and tears. So did she. So much for that.
Other moms on the street pitched in and added to the bounty in my backyard. We may have had more eggs than they did on the White House Lawn this year!
By six there were 10 kids running all over the yard. My plan of letting the little ones go back first followed by the older ones was foiled, but my husband managed to get the older ones to go to the "way back" yard while the little ones stayed closer to the house. (We have a very large, hilly yard.) There were kids running, yelling and even falling everywhere. Baskets were quickly filled with plastic eggs. Baskets were emptied into bags and filled again! (That's how much candy there was).
Eggs were opened. Candy was eaten. (So much candy was eaten that no dinner was served in my house that night. Yes, my son's evening meal consisted solely of sugar filled treats.) There was laughter. There was NO rain.
I'd like to think I did Mary proud. I'd also like to think that it didn't rain during the hour or so that everyone was out there because of her. (I'd also like to think that up in heaven, when Mary speaks, God listens.)
After an hour or so in the costume, I went inside and changed. To say I was a sweaty mess is to put it mildly. But I went back outside in "normal" clothes and joined in the fun. And when it was all over, I cleaned up the wrappers, the spilled candy and the broken eggs with the help of my son. (Who volunteered to help, which tells me I must be doing something right.)
For me, the Easter egg hunt was the highlight of my Easter weekend. Not to be sacrilegious, but it was more important than any service on Easter Sunday morning. It embodied the joy of Easter. Of children of all ages being together in the best possible way. There was sharing and laughter. There was a spirit there that night that I will carry in my heart.
I'd like to say I pulled it off, but I had help. And not just the help of my neighbors, but help from Mary. SHE helped me keep the tradition going, even if she isn't physically here anymore.
Easter comes early in 2016. I've already got my calendar marked for Friday, March 25th and told my neighbors to mark their calendars too. I'll gladly don the bunny costume again and I, and the rest of my neighbors, will keep the tradition and the spirit alive.
Thank you Mary.