NORWICH — The Easter Bunny will be stopping by Norwich's East and West Parks on Saturday, April 8 for the annual kids' Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Maydole Hose Company and the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).
The egg hunt is open to children throughout all of Chenango County. Kids up to four years old will begin the festivities with an egg hunt at 10 a.m. in West Park, followed by children aged five to eight years old at 10:30 a.m. in East Park.
The BID provides 5,000 eggs for the annual hunt, and members of the Maydole Hose Co. will spend the morning hiding them around the two parks. Two lucky children will also win bicycles donated by the Maydole Hose Co., if they find one of the golden eggs hidden in the parks.
"We provide two bicycles and give them away for each age level," said Maydole Hose Company President Pat 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."
The event will be held rain or shine. All children must be accompanied by a parent, bring their own baskets, and wait on the sidewalks around the park until given the signal to start searching.
Ford said it usually doesn't take very long for all the eggs to be scooped up.
"It's amazing how fast those eggs are picked up," he said. "You think 4,000 is a lot, or 5,000, but we timed it once and it’s like two and a half minutes that they're all gone. They’re all picked up."
The Easter Bunny will also be in attendance during the egg hunt, meeting Chenango-area children and taking pictures. Ford said the Easter Bunny will stick around after the egg hunts have concluded to ensure everyone gets a chance to take a picture.
The bunny will be played by BID Board Member Mindy Chawgo once again this year.
"Usually the bunny stays around afterward for the people who want pictures with the Easter Bunny," said Ford. "Mindy’s going to the bunny again this year. We used to have one of our members, but he moved away so she volunteered."
"We pay her well, she gets a few extra eggs," he joked.
The Maydole Hose Company has been sponsoring the annual Easter Egg Hunt for around 13 years.
"We were the ones that originally brought it back to life because somebody used to have it downtown," Ford explained. "A one of our meetings we got talking and, jeez, we ought to resurrect that thing because it was so popular years ago, so we did."
The Maydole Hose Co. also sponsors and supports several other local events and organizations, including the NHS After Prom Party, Little League, Norwich Youth Football, Firemen’s Home on the Hudson, Tunnels to Towers, St. Baldrick’s, and many others.
This year they added Stanford J. Gibson Primary School to the list with a $500 donation to provide winter hats, coats, gloves, and boots to local children who need them.
Hose Co. members also tend to the graves of former members around Memorial Day each year, replacing American flags and metal grave markers. Last year the organization replaced approximately 90 flags and eight markers.
Ford said civic work is a big part of what they do, and giving back to the community is something the members truly enjoy.
"We always have a great turnout, that's for sure. And we get people from all over the county, because it isn’t just Norwich. A lot of places don’t do anything, a lot of other villages," said Ford. "We enjoy it, we very much enjoy it."