Flowers are blooming, warm breezes are blowing and Easter is on its way to Rockingham County.
Last year, Easter events were cancelled and festivities turned indoors for isolation. Traditional town celebrations are getting a facelift this year to maintain safety precautions in the COVID-19 era.
For years, Easter egg hunts were a riveting and competitive scavenger between children, but the fun was confined to park grounds and parking lots. This year, communities are spreading out the hunt for eggs and challenging families to go outside to catch some sweets.
During December, the town of Timberville placed Bizzy the Elf around town for residents to find, highlighting local businesses and operations along the way. With a $500 donation from Cargill, Timberville continued the same fun throughout the past week. Each day, a colorfully striped egg has made its way around town for kids to find based on hints posted on the town’s Facebook page.
For each egg discovery, families are encouraged to post a picture with the egg for a chance to win an Easter basket, and every day three children’s baskets and one family themed basket have tempted dozens of families.
Timberville resident Jessica Trejo began looking for the egg with her 7-year-old daughter, Callie, on Monday. Trejo said her daughter loves finding the egg hidden around town, and it’s nice to have a daily outdoor activity together.
“It’s so wonderful that Timberville is doing something fun for the kids,” she said. “I know it makes a lot of kids happy. With what these kids went through last year they deserve these things.”
To end the week, the Easter Bunny will lead a parade through town on a firetruck and throw out candy today at 3 p.m. Families are encouraged to watch from the comfort of their own home or watch from the Plains District Community Center LOVE sign.
Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation’s Westover Annual Easter Egg Hunt is being modified into a take-home activity. Parents can pick up packets of candy and 10 toy- and activity-filled eggs from the Cecil F. Gilkerson Community Activities Center between Monday and Thursday.
In Luray, Studio 31.13 is offering egg decorating on Sunday from 11 a.m. to noon for families to take home and the Easter Bunny will be at Virginia Gift Shop on Sunday, but guests must make an appointment to meet Mr. Cottontail.
New Market has an egg hunt scheduled at 9:30 a.m. today at New Market Community Park for kids under 11 to meet the Easter Bunny, find candy and take home crafts in the afternoon. Participating families should arrive at 9 a.m. so volunteers can divide the children into groups. As always, the event is sponsored and coordinated by New Market Rotary and Stonewall Jackson High School Interact Club.
Marketing and events coordinator Amber Smoot said returning to the tradition of a community egg hunt feels refreshing and a testament to the new season.
“It’s so nice to be able to give something to the community and something back to the kids and families. I know I’ve had several people say, ‘Thank you for hosting this, we missed it,’” Smoot said. “It’s nice to bring something normal back to everybody.”
Broadway will have a drive-thru Easter at Broadway High School with a bunny route for families to collect crafts and treats from 10 to 11:30 a.m. today. Grottoes will also have a drive-thru Easter at Mountain View (Town) Park on April 3 from 10 a.m. to noon.
In Dayton, the Easter Bunny will be escorted through town in parade style on April 3 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. to say hello and hand out candy starting at South Breeze.
Timberville marketing and events coordinator Cecilia Valdez said its encouraging to see how each town has found new ways of sharing the spirit of the holidays in spite of the pandemic.
“We didn’t let the pandemic stop us. All the towns are trying to do something for their residents,” she said. “It gives families an opportunity to do something together.”