42nd Santa Clara Easter Egg Hunt Not for Slow Pokes
Story and photos by Diane Andrews

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42nd Santa Clara Easter Egg Hunt Not for Slow Pokes

At exactly 10 a.m., at the count of ten, City Councilmember Teresa O'Neill blew an air horn signaling the start of Santa Clara's 42nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Central Park on April 15. An estimated 1,500 really cute kids aged three to eight bolted like race horses at the starting gate. They ran as if their lives depended on it towards pastel-colored plastic eggs scattered on the ground inside three gigantic, roped-off circles on the softball fields.

And in a flash–maybe 60 seconds max–thirteen thousand Easter eggs had all disappeared into Easter baskets. Inside the eggs were treasures such as erasers, fake silver coins and tattoos. To keep it fair, one circle of eggs was for kids three to four, one for five to six-year-olds and one for seven to eight-year-olds.

"It's a big crowd, and the kids do feel they really have to compete for the eggs, but [my daughter Anjali] seems to have a good time," said Cupertino resident Ranjini Krishnan.

"I got 14 eggs," said five-year-old Anya Malhotra from Sunnyvale, Anjali's new friend. "I feel happy because I got so many eggs and inside are toys."

"I want her to experience the Easter things," said Anya's mom, Giovanna Malhotra. "We're Buddhist."

In the grassy meadow area of Central Park, a fenced-in "bunny trail" for special needs kids and those two and under was a popular addition this year. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., six families at a time were admitted, allowing parents to assist their babies and toddlers.

"This is a well-thought out arrangement for families with kids under two," said Santa Clara resident Praveen Kumar, attending the Easter event with his wife, Swetha Kumar, and their six-month old daughter, Prajna.

"We're Hindu, but we celebrate all religious festivals. It's being part of the community, not a religious activity," said Kumar.

Pre-hunt activities began at 9 a.m.: a bounce house, face painting and photo opportunities with the Easter bunny and Santa Clara Police Department Officer Wally Lawton and his cool police car, a Chevy Camaro SS, purchased with seized drug money.

The Healthier Kids Foundation of Santa Clara County gave kids free vision and dental screenings.

"If we detect issues, we recommend follow up," said Mark Lopez, Screening Program Manager.

To schedule free hearing, vision and dental screenings for children under 18 at schools or churches, visit www.hkidsf.org. An entire school can be screened in a day. Healthier Kids will be back again at the City's July 4 celebration, also in Central Park.

Beginning at noon, the Easter-Pool-Ooza–an aquatic Easter egg hunt in the International Swim Center–was a fee-based, new opportunity for kids.

The egg hunt is a free community event hosted by the City Parks and Recreation Department and sponsored by the Santa Clara Kiwanis Club. Just before 10 a.m., Tory Votino, Miss Santa Clara 2017, introduced Mayor Lisa Gillmor, who welcomed families.

"This is truly an exciting springtime tradition for us and celebrates the renewal, rebirth and hope we have as families and a community....May you and your families have a wonderful day and Happy Easter!" said Gillmor.

Gillmor and Councilmember O'Neill grew up in Santa Clara.

"We both have memories of this as children," said O'Neill.

"Every year it gets bigger and better," said Gillmor.

"I get to blow the air horn [to start the hunt] because they found out that I have a lot of hot air," added O'Neill.