Spring Celebration in Prince George's County Attracts Hundreds

Gale Horton Gay | 4/11/2012, 2:37 p.m.

Pure splendor in the grass. That's the best description of the way hundreds of children and adults spent the Saturday before Easter at the 2nd annual "Hop into Health" Spring Extravaganza and egg hunt at the Hillcrest Heights Community Center in Temple Hills, Md.

The weather could not have been more ideal with a cool breeze, clear sky and steady sunshine. Perfect for all the free outdoor activities that took place and there were plenty--face painting, pony rides, egg dying, egg hunt as well as a petting zoo that seemed to delight adults just as much as the children.

Some 250 people turned out for the event that brought out families such as grandmother Pat Boykin who wanted to spend some "girl time" with Ciara Crawford, one of her five granddaughters.

"This is a treat right here," said Boykin. "I think this is very good for the community to do things like this because people don't have a lot of money."

Her granddaughter also gave the event a thumbs-up.

"I really enjoyed it because I get to take pictures and see my friends," said Crawford, 9, of District Heights, after she had her photo taken with the Easter Bunny.

Over at the petting zoo--where a menagerie of goats, chickens, sheep, turkeys, ducks, bunnies and a pot-bellied pig scurried from the clutches of excited children--adults, too, were in the mix--taking photos on their cameras and cell phones.

"I want to pet some things," said one woman looking at the critters. "Look at this one," said another woman. "Isn't it strange looking?"

Demetrius Brown came out of the petting zoo with his 2-year-old daughter Kenadie and said his usually timid little girl wasn't afraid to feed the goats. Brown gave the event high marks for being "well put together" and having plenty of space.

The highlights of the afternoon were two egg hunts that sent scores of children rushing through a grassy field on the community center's grounds collecting as many of the 500 colorful plastic eggs as their hands could grab. Prizes were awarded to the children who gathered the most eggs and the finders of the glittery "golden" egg.

Karen Toles, council member of District 7 Prince George's County, said she sponsored the event last year and this year to "...give the children in this neighborhood the opportunity to take part in a traditional celebration."

"I want to bring the White House to District 7," said Toles, explaining that the affair didn't require families to participate in a lottery and stand in long lines referring to the annual White House egg hunt and roll. "In this community and other communities in Prince Georges County they may not have the opportunity to go the White House Easter Egg Hunt. We're creating it here. They need that fresh air."

Another--more subtle--component of the event was a focus on health, according to organizers. They said it was important for the children to be outdoors running and playing. Reusable shopping bags filled with granola bars, water, chocolate eggs, jelly beans, pencils and hand sanitizer were distributed. And informational flyers about upcoming farmers markets were handed out.

Toles said the health component was in keeping with first lady Michele Obama's health initiatives.

Adrienne Harris Moore, facility director of Hillcrest Heights Community Center, hoped that many of the attendees would return to the center to participate in some of the 20 classes and special events that are scheduled.

Other organizations involved in the event were the Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning-Prince George's County Parks and Recreation, Branch Avenue in Bloom, Community of Hope Church, in Temple Hills, the Step Ahead program in Capitol Heights and the Breath of Life Church and the Daughter of ISIS.