Picture a swarm of parents running amok in the fields of West Windsor Community Park with their children, snatching up every Easter egg in sight.
That was the scene, as described by a number of attendees, at this year’s West Windsor Lions Club Easter Egg hunt on April 8.
Mortified by the turn of events, the sponsor of the annual egg hunt reached out to the News in an effort to let the community know that it is taking steps to make sure it never happens again.
The hunt, which is for pre-kindergarten to third grade children, takes place in a roped-off area in the park.
The Lions have held the event annually for decades without incident. In the past, the start of the event was announced over a PA system, and parents were instructed to allow their children to enter the hunt area alone.
“Be kind. Share an egg with a child who may not have been fast enough,” states the announcement for the event on the Lions’ Facebook page. That’s not how the event turned out.
According to attendees, this year a number of parents jumped the gun before the start of the hunt was announced and helped their children collect as many eggs as possible. The event was attended by about 250 to 300 children and their parents.
Bob Virgadamo, Lions Club secretary, called the situation a “travesty.” He said members of Lions Club are very upset about what transpired.
“They (the parents) were like vultures. There were dozens, upon dozens, upon dozens of kids who got no eggs,” he said.
Lions Club president Kashmiri Delory said the crux of the problem was that there was a power outage in the park that morning and they couldn’t get the PA system working by the event’s 10 a.m. start time. When the clock struck 10 and no announcements came, some parents took it upon themselves to get things underway by storming into the field in search of toy treasures.
“A lot of parents jumped out and caused a commotion. It caused a problem for a lot of the little kids,” Delory said. “A lot of them got no eggs or only one egg. This is the first time that anything like this has ever happened.”
Delory said in future years, the club plans to have more volunteers on hand to help with crowd control. And except in the case of small children two years old and younger, parents will not be allowed onto the field.
They are also planning to have a battery backup available to power the PA system in case of a loss of electricity.
There will also be more eggs available in the future. This year, the club had about 2,500 eggs, and the club wants to have at least 4,000 next year, Delory said the Lions Club purchased the eggs already filled. About half contained small toys, and the rest had prewrapped candies.
“This is a community event, and we want to make sure that the kids are happy,” Delory said. “That’s our goal.”