April 8, 2006 – Toting wicker baskets, plastic bags and just about any container that would likely hold their finds, children romped through grassy areas and around trees Sunday in hopes of collecting lots of colorful eggs hidden at the Agriculture grounds as part of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's annual Easter Egg Hunt.
After a series of games and a hearty lunch the hunt kicked in, and when it was over the boys were up by four eggs total.
Miguel Parrilla, 11, collected 33 eggs, three more than 10-year-old Jeanette Ferdinand, and Gerard Thomas, 8, collected 19 eggs or one more than 10-year-old Vanessa Matthew.
The Easter egg hunt, which was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., was opened to children 4 to 11 years old, said St. Croix Administrator Gregory R. Francis, who hosted the event along with several Government House staff.
Earlier Sunday, 4-year-old Rosa Clarke waited patiently for the hunt to begin.
She sat under a tent with her plastic lilac basket emblazoned with a large white tulip.
Sharifa Browne and Vesley Innis, who brought Rosa and other neighborhood kids for the egg hunt, said it was Rosa's first time.
When asked how many eggs she was hoping to collect on Sunday, Rosa raised her left hand with all five fingers spread wide.
"Five," she later said softly, confirming that was all she hoped for.
The others in her group were thinking higher.
Khalifa Antoine, 11, Kadijah Roach, 10, and Addie Heskey, 5, said they wanted at least 50. That would be 150 eggs between them, even though at the time they said it they had no idea just how many eggs were hidden.
Veronica Joseph, executive assistant to Turnbull, said that she and other staff members were on the grounds as early as 8:30 a.m. to hide the 400 boiled eggs.
"It's fun," Khalifa said of attending the Easter egg hunt. "You get to play games, have food and hunt for eggs."
Instead of the normal hotdogs and hamburgers that have traditionally been doled out, the children were treated to a grand feast of Spanish-style rice, rice and pigeon peas, barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, and potato stuffing, cookies and drinks.
Joseph said that the food was donated by area restaurants – Villa Morales, Gertrude's, Purple's Restaurant, Paquitos and Pier 69. Plaza Extra East donated all of the chicken, she said, which was cooked by one of the restaurants, and Armstrong's of Frederiksted donated ice cream. St. Croix Dairies provided juices.
Joseph praised the community effort.
"I've been the one dealing with them for seven-and-a-half years and they have been really good to me," she said. "I want to thank them on behalf of the governor and on behalf of Government House staff on St. Croix."
In another change this year, the children were allowed to eat first, and then got a chance to work it off during games like musical chairs or dancing to music being blasted over loudspeakers. Of course, hunting for the eggs was good exercise, too.
"The kids always love this," said Francis, who distributed 120 Easter Baskets – the governor's contribution – to the children.
Francis said that the Easter egg hunt was held early this year so that staff members could spend time with their families on the Easter holiday, which starts next week with Holy Thursday and runs through Easter Monday the following week.
"Easter is a time for family and today the staff were here helping make Easter fun for these children and then they are free to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones," Francis said, adding that many residents spend the Easter weekend camping.
The Easter egg hunt on St. John is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. at The Battery on April 16, Easter Sunday, and open to children, ages 3 to 11.
On St. Thomas the event is scheduled for April 17, Easter Monday, from noon to 4 p.m. at Reichhold Center grounds.
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