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HomeNewsArchivesLittle People Invade Catharineberg for Easter Egg Hunt

Little People Invade Catharineberg for Easter Egg Hunt

April 3, 2007 –- The People's House was open to the people Tuesday — little people, scurrying around the elegant grounds of Catharineberg in search of the hundreds of pink, yellow, blue and green eggs strategically hidden on the grounds of the governor's mansion.
Under a cloudless blue sky, a perfect day for the event, first lady Cecile deJongh was up to her ears in eggs, helpers, baskets, teachers and hundreds of little kids. She looked calm and pleased at the goings on as she negotiated her way from one volunteer or kindergartner to another.
As a recording of "We Are Family" boomed out over the crowd, it was indeed a family affair. DeJongh said she got the idea over Christmas last year. "I was at a Christmas child's party, and I started thinking about what we could do for our youngsters. Easter is such a big island holiday, an Easter egg hunt seemed just right, and I was thinking about the annual hunt on the White House lawn. We'll make it an annual tradition in the V.I., too."
Over the past six weeks, she said she gathered together about 30 women from their campaign committee. "I asked anyone who has free time, to pitch in," she said. And, she got some help from her own family. "Two of our kids, J.P. and Renee, are helping," she said. Another youngster on adult detail was Amari Hector, a Moravian School fifth-grader, who was busily situating some balloons. "I think it's important for the kids to see Catharineberg," she said.
DeJongh said Lisa Hassell-Forde, acting St. Thomas-St. John District Superintendent of Schools, and St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Barbara Petersen helped organize the hunt on St. Thomas. St. Croix Administrator Pedro Encarnacion helped Cheryl Francis, the territory's second lady, to set up a similar hunt on St. Croix at the Agriculture Grounds, she said.
Looking at the herds of children happily running around, showing off their bags of eggs, deJongh laughed, "It's organized chaos," she said.
And what is Easter without a bunny? DeJongh summoned a tall, rather thin bunny, who obligingly removed his head and ears, flashing a welcoming smile. "Well, it's not too hot," said Raymond Kean Jr., in answer to the obvious question. "I duck out and take a breath when I can."
Kean said when he woke up Monday morning he had no idea he would spend from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday as the Easter Bunny. "My cousin called me last night and asked if I could do it," he laughed. "I was happy to."
Kean recalled a fond childhood memory. "I remember the first time I was here," he said. "It was an Easter egg hunt, too, and I must have been about 10 years old. I think it was during the Farrelly/Hodge years. I remember how thrilled I was, the pool and the beautiful lawn. It is the people's house. It's a standout memory."
As of 10 a.m., deJongh said 600 youngsters had gathered eggs — all the island's public and private school kindergarten classes. "And this afternoon, we have all the first-graders," she said. At the end of the day, about 1,000 youngsters will have visited the mansion and collected their eggs.
DeJongh said, "We gave them sandwiches to eat on the bus on the way back to school, and we filled some of the eggs with candy, but not too much. We don't want them to be over-sugared."
The kids, whether from sugar or the simple excitement of the event, were grinning and laughing as they filed through a gazebo at the front of the lawn, trying to stand in an orderly line as they picked up one last treat – a hot bag of fresh popcorn.
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April 3, 2007 –- The People's House was open to the people Tuesday -- little people, scurrying around the elegant grounds of Catharineberg in search of the hundreds of pink, yellow, blue and green eggs strategically hidden on the grounds of the governor's mansion.
Under a cloudless blue sky, a perfect day for the event, first lady Cecile deJongh was up to her ears in eggs, helpers, baskets, teachers and hundreds of little kids. She looked calm and pleased at the goings on as she negotiated her way from one volunteer or kindergartner to another.
As a recording of "We Are Family" boomed out over the crowd, it was indeed a family affair. DeJongh said she got the idea over Christmas last year. "I was at a Christmas child's party, and I started thinking about what we could do for our youngsters. Easter is such a big island holiday, an Easter egg hunt seemed just right, and I was thinking about the annual hunt on the White House lawn. We'll make it an annual tradition in the V.I., too."
Over the past six weeks, she said she gathered together about 30 women from their campaign committee. "I asked anyone who has free time, to pitch in," she said. And, she got some help from her own family. "Two of our kids, J.P. and Renee, are helping," she said. Another youngster on adult detail was Amari Hector, a Moravian School fifth-grader, who was busily situating some balloons. "I think it's important for the kids to see Catharineberg," she said.
DeJongh said Lisa Hassell-Forde, acting St. Thomas-St. John District Superintendent of Schools, and St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Barbara Petersen helped organize the hunt on St. Thomas. St. Croix Administrator Pedro Encarnacion helped Cheryl Francis, the territory's second lady, to set up a similar hunt on St. Croix at the Agriculture Grounds, she said.
Looking at the herds of children happily running around, showing off their bags of eggs, deJongh laughed, "It's organized chaos," she said.
And what is Easter without a bunny? DeJongh summoned a tall, rather thin bunny, who obligingly removed his head and ears, flashing a welcoming smile. "Well, it's not too hot," said Raymond Kean Jr., in answer to the obvious question. "I duck out and take a breath when I can."
Kean said when he woke up Monday morning he had no idea he would spend from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday as the Easter Bunny. "My cousin called me last night and asked if I could do it," he laughed. "I was happy to."
Kean recalled a fond childhood memory. "I remember the first time I was here," he said. "It was an Easter egg hunt, too, and I must have been about 10 years old. I think it was during the Farrelly/Hodge years. I remember how thrilled I was, the pool and the beautiful lawn. It is the people's house. It's a standout memory."
As of 10 a.m., deJongh said 600 youngsters had gathered eggs -- all the island's public and private school kindergarten classes. "And this afternoon, we have all the first-graders," she said. At the end of the day, about 1,000 youngsters will have visited the mansion and collected their eggs.
DeJongh said, "We gave them sandwiches to eat on the bus on the way back to school, and we filled some of the eggs with candy, but not too much. We don't want them to be over-sugared."
The kids, whether from sugar or the simple excitement of the event, were grinning and laughing as they filed through a gazebo at the front of the lawn, trying to stand in an orderly line as they picked up one last treat – a hot bag of fresh popcorn.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.