NORWICH — The Easter Bunny will be hopping over to Norwich this Saturday, April 16 for an Easter egg hunt in East and West Park in Norwich, organized by the Maydole Hose Company.
Children up to age four will be let into West Park at 10 a.m. to search for eggs, and children between the ages of five and eight will be let into East Park at 10:30 a.m. All children must be accompanied by an adult, and bring their own baskets.
"It's with our fire company, Maydole Hose Company, and I wish we knew the exact year but it's about 12 years ago. We just said at one of our meetings, well, there's no Easter egg hunt in Norwich anymore," explained Norwich Hose Company President Patrick Ford. "We started it, and it's been great ever since."
A few years ago the Norwich Businesses Improvement District (BID) also got on board with the egg hunt, and now helps the Maydole Hose Company organize the event. BID member Mindy Chawgo will even be donning the bunny suit this year to visit with attending children and take pictures.
"When we got into this we bought an Easter Bunny suit, and so the guy that used to do it from the department, he moved away. So we talked Mindy into doing it this year," said Ford. "She’ll walk around and get pictures, and she’ll do the same on each side. It really helps. The kids love it."
Over 5,000 eggs containing prizes and candy will be hidden around the parks, and one egg in each park will contain a winning ticket for a brand new bicycle, provided by the Maydole Hose Company.
"We provide two bicycles and give them away for each age level," said Ford. "Our company purchases them, and we give a certificate if they want to exchange it, because a lot of times we get the wrong bike, or a little girl wants to exchange it."
Ford said all the eggs will be hidden by members of the Maydole Hose Company and their families before the event, and attendees will be asked to remain on the sidewalks until given the okay to enter the parks.
"They surround the parks. We keep everybody back on the sidewalks until it’s time to go," he said. "It’s amazing when I give them the word to go, and whoosh. I mean, it’s all done in five minutes. It's really fun, so we enjoy it. It’s a tradition for us."
This weekend's festivities marks the return of the egg hunt after two years off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ford hopes the revival of the event will draw a crowd of Chenango County residents.
"We anticipate this year, because it’s been a two year hiatus, that there’ll be a lot of people. Of course it’s all weather depending," he said. "The last two years we didn’t [have it]. The first year of course we knew it was gone, but we would’ve got it in last year but they still had a lot of mask mandates and stuff, so we canceled at the last minute. So this is the first one we’ve done in two years. It’s hard to believe."
He added that many municipalities in the county don't host an Easter egg hunt each year, so the Norwich event provides a fun holiday excursion for anyone in Chenango County.
"We get people from all these communities that don’t. I was going around last year, or the last year we had it, asking people," said Ford. "They’re from Gilbertsville and Mount Upton, because they don’t have anything."
"We have fun. And it doesn’t take a long time for us, we’re only down there for a couple hours," he added. "It’s a fun time, and we’ve really enjoyed it."
The Maydole Hose Company is a part of the Norwich Fire Department. In addition to fighting fires, members also play a strong role in the community. They get involved through events like the Easter egg hunt, and also provide donations to various community organizations and fundraisers, such as the Norwich SADD chapter and St. Baldrick's.