TORRINGTON – As a symbol of new life, the humble egg has been associated with Easter, resurrection and new life for centuries.
And Easter has traditionally been associated with hunts – phalanxes of laughing, screaming children, scrambling to collect brightly-colored eggs, often filled with candy or prize vouchers for the very lucky few. But in the new reality of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, bringing large groups together – no matter the reason – is going by the wayside.
But how to provide children the fun of the hunt while still keeping them safe from illness was a question on minds around the country.
Enter the Social Distancing Easter Egg Hunt. Groups, including the Goshen County Chamber of Commerce, have invited businesses and individuals to decorate paper Easter eggs which are then hung in the windows of storefronts and homes. Families get the thrill of the hunt while driving around their communities, isolated – and safe – from others.
“This situation is sad,” said Lucy Martin, who’s grandchildren Makayla and Madelyn, 10-year-old twins, and Wyatt, 7, all of Bridgeport, Neb., have festooned the large picture window of Lucy’s home in the 2900-block of East B Street with eggs.
“There’s so many things the community can come together to do, and this is a good one,” Lucy said. “It gets you in your car, it gets you looking and paying attention to things you might not see otherwise.”
And the kids love it.
“I thought it was really cool,” Wyatt said. His design is “actually an egg inside an egg inside an egg.”
When word came out local egg hunts were being cancelled due to social distancing mandates from the pandemic, the Martin children – much like kids around the country – were disappointed. Easter egg hunts are a spring tradition, after all.
“Our church always does a community Eater egg hunt and last year I got like 100 eggs,” Madelyn said. “It was so much fun.”
The hunts promote that sense of community with a bit of fun competition. In some cases, they even bring out a sense of generosity in the kids.
“Last year, when I was six, I got a lot of Easter eggs,” Wyatt recalled. “There was a little girl who didn’t have very many, so I gave her a couple of mine.”
The only limitation on the egg designs is the native creativity that lives in the mind of a child. The Chamber provides a paper with a blank orb and the kids do the rest.
But Lucy took it one step further. She found additional designs online, printed them out and turned her grandchildren loose.
Finding ways to occupy children even during a home lockdown is almost second nature for Lucy, a retired teacher. In addition to decorating the eggs with pencils, markers and crayons, Makayla, Madelyn and Wyatt read, bake cookies and learn on the computer at grandma’s house.
“My favorite part of grandma’s house is computer time,” Wyatt said.
Bridgeport schools have expanded their Accelerated Reader program, offering students credit for books they read, offering rewards for successfully completing a test over what they’ve read, for example, Lucy said. That’s just one of the ways different communities are coming together.
“It’s nice the websites teachers us have resources and have been opened up,” she said. They’re free now; otherwise it would have had to have been paid for.
“Everyone’s seeing the need and they want to contribute,” Lucy said. “That’s the best thing we can do.”