Hundreds of children and parents swarmed City Park on Saturday for the Cortez Rotary Club’s annual Easter egg hunt.
Rotary Club president Shane Hale said the event is always well attended, and Saturday, with its sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, was no exception.
All over the park, children chased down thousands of plastic eggs filled with candy, coins and $2 bills. In addition to a fun community event, the hunt provided a way for the Rotary Club to promote its programs for kids in Montezuma County.
Families started gathering at the park about 9:30 a.m. to line up according to their age groups in different sections of the park. Blue-vested volunteers from the Cortez Rotary Club kept things organized as children fidgeted with excitement.
Members of the Rotary Club in Dolores also helped out, offering pictures with the Easter Bunny and promoting a March Madness fundraiser for student scholarships.
“Doing this and getting to talk to people, seeing the joy in kids’ eyes ... it’s just great,” Hale said. “I wish we could do something like this every weekend.”
This was the last Easter egg hunt Hale would organize as club president, since he recently accepted a job as city manager in Windsor and will be leaving town in May. Rotary Club treasurer Jim Reser said the group has already started the process of electing a new president.
The Easter egg hunt was a way for them to promote one of their signature programs for families, Imagination Library. Funded by the Dolly Parton Foundation, the program allows families with children age 5 and under to receive one free book per month. Rotary volunteers handed out pamphlets for the program, including a sign-up form, to parents while they waited for the hunt to start.
Many of the families who participated in the egg hunt had traveled from outside Cortez, like Camille Redbird from Towaoc, who said the event is an Easter tradition for her family.
“Every year, we come out to celebrate Easter with the community,” she said.
Her sons, Nyus and Jayden, could barely stand still as they waited for the signal to start the hunt.
Once that signal came – with a siren from a nearby Cortez Police car – the park burst into organized chaos as kids scrambled to pick up as many eggs as would fit in their baskets. Although Rotary Club volunteers had been laying out eggs almost an hour before it started, the hunt was over in less than a minute.
Dolores and Mancos also had Easter egg hunts on Saturday, at the Four Seasons greenhouse and Mancos Community Center.
The Mancos event was organized by VFW Auxiliary Post 5231 and included a bake sale fundraiser. The egg hunt at Four Seasons was organized by the Battle Rock 4-H Club as part of its annual community service project.