Story by Kristina Hoti
The Warwick Annual Easter Egg Hunt took place on Sat., Apr. 20, despite rainy weather and predictions of thunderstorms for the morning. The event was originally scheduled to take place at Veterans Memorial Park a 10 a.m., however at about 9 a.m., President of the Village of Warwick Recreation Department, Ron Introini made the decision to move the hunt, also sponsored by the Warwick Fire Department, to Warwick Station 1 on Church St., pushing the time back to 11 a.m.
“Thanks to social media, we were able to get the word out to everyone,” said Mayor Michael Newhard, while looking over the candy stash that awaited the children inside the fire station.
Not to be deterred by some uncooperative weather, the Warwick Fire Department and members of the Warwick Recreation Department worked quickly to clear the three large fire truck bays in Station 1, separating each bay with caution tape, so that age groups three and under, four to six, and seven to 12, each had their own large section in which to gather as much candy as they could. Each age group contained one golden egg, which the lucky finder could exchange for a large chocolate bunny.
Although the number of participants did not approach what is typically seen for this event, there was nonetheless a substantial crowd gathered in front of the firehouse, starting from around 10:30 a.m. When asked if the crowd was diminished due to weather, Introini confirmed that it was a smaller group than past fair-weather hunts have seen.
“These are the diehards,” said Introini.
Indeed, many raincoat-clad children, some toting umbrellas along with their Easter baskets, eagerly awaited the start of the hunt. To help ease the wait, the Easter Bunny made an appearance and greeted the children, posing for photos and giving high-fives. The torrential downpour of the early morning had graciously reduced to just a light drizzle by the time families began arriving, so all were cheerful and comfortable.
At 11 a.m., Warwick Fire Department President Melissa Stevens got the crowd’s attention with the use of the fire truck’s PA system. She welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming out, “even though the weather isn’t so nice for us,” and turned the microphone over to Mayor Newhard.
Newhard first thanked the Warwick Recreation Department and Fire Department, and spoke of this being the Fire Department’s 150th year serving Warwick. He called on the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday,” and laughingly led in the song.
“Spring has never been more beautiful in the Warwick Valley. It’s a late Easter and it’s a beautiful Easter. Thank you to the Easter Bunny for coming and visiting us this morning,” said Mayor Newhard.
At the sound of the fire truck’s siren, the bay doors opened and kids flooded into the firehouse to collect their treats. It took all of about four minutes for the oldest group of seven to 12-year-olds to transform their section from a carpet of candy and filled plastic eggs, back into a seemingly polished garage floor.
The younger age groups took a bit longer, with the four to six-year-olds taking a bit more time, and the three and under just generally playing and posing for lots of cheerful photo ops while their parents helped guide them through this fun tradition.
The Easter Bunny remained for photo ops throughout the hunt, long after the children had collected their goodies, still posing for photos outside in front of the fire trucks while the Warwick Fire Department and Warwick Recreation teams swept up the station.