St. Charles County hosts Easter egg hunts, including special ones for children with disabilities
By Brett Auten
It’s an opportunity for children of all ages and abilities.
The Easter Bunny will make an arrival to the Youth Activity Park in Dardenne Prairie on March 24 and to celebrate, the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department is hosting several age-specific egg hunts and activities for children of all abilities. The program is free, but space is limited, and registration required.
Bring your basket and join in for the YAP Annual Egg Hunt and the third annual EGGstravaganza for children with disABILITIES, co-hosted by the Parks Department and the St. Charles County Police Department. Rain or shine, more than 8,000 candy, and toy-filled eggs will be hidden throughout the park’s 25-acre facility for the hunts. Each age group is in the hunt for a golden egg, and the lucky discoverer receives the grand prize. Photos with the Easter Bunny and egg-themed games will round out the activities. The Chick-Fil-A Cow also makes a special appearance. Families are encouraged to bring their camera to capture these special moments.
Registration is limited to 100 children per hunt. Participants are encouraged to register by March 17 by calling the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department at 636-949-7535 or online at www.stccparks.org.
Nancy Gomer, Marketing Coordinator and Public Information Officer with the St. Charles County Parks Department, said the idea of the EGGstravaganza sprung from a park ranger and a member of the SCCPD Bomb Squad having children with special needs and looking for an event that could cater more to them.
“Three years ago we finally got our ducks in a row, and we hope to continue to grow, and we’re excited about this joint effort,” Gomer said. “We want to makes sure that all children get to have a good time and to have this be a community event that everyone can enjoy.”
Three age-appropriate hunts begin in the morning for the YAP Annual Egg Hunt: at 11 a.m., ages three and under, at 11:30 a.m., ages four-to-six and at noon, ages seven-to-12.
The EGGstravaganza for children with disABILITIES begins in the afternoon as children with sensory, mobility and visual disabilities are invited to participate in one of four hunts: at 1 p.m., children 12 and under with sensory disabilities, at 1:30 p.m., children 12 and under with mobility disabilities, at 2 p.m., children 12 and under with visual disabilities and at 2:30 p.m., children 13 and older with disabilities.
Jennifer Bolduc, of St. Peters, brought her two daughters, Jezeca and Zephany ages 15 and 11 respectively, to last year’s event.
“The girls absolutely loved it,” Bolduc said. “It was nice that they didn’t have to worry about getting run over or anything like that. It was so much fun. As a parent, it just makes your heart happy watching them have fun and doing stuff like this.”
Gomer added that the small size of the staggered start times is also a bonus.
“A lot of these children do like large crowds, and this can give them more confidence,” she said. “They can have their parents right there, and it is not a huge event, and they are not overwhelmed.”
Children with mobility equipment will hunt for eggs using magnetic sticks; those with visual disabilities will hunt beeping eggs designed by the St. Charles County Police Bomb Squad and assembled by bomb squad officers and students from the Lutheran High School Robotics Club.
“The St. Charles County Police Department is thrilled to co-present,” Val Joyner, Public Affairs Officer with the St. Charles County Police Department, said. “This event will create first-time memories for many children with sensory, mobility and visual disabilities, and connect families with helpful resources that promote safety, inclusion, and community.”
Each child will take home a prize basket donated by Hayleigh’s Helping Hands and a Chick-Fil-A guest card. Batteries Plus Bulbs supplied the batteries for the beeping eggs, Kohl’s 4 Kids and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon are giving away bike helmets, Bahama Buck’s is providing free treat vouchers for children, and members of the St. Charles County Ambulance District and Cornerstone Methodist Church in O’Fallon are assisting with the hunts.