NORTH ROYALTON – As Nathan Petras, 6, navigated his way into the playground, he was overcome by what he saw.
“Wow! Easter eggs are everywhere!” he said, clearly astounded.
Like finding gold at the end of a rainbow, Nathan and his sister Cassie, 7, hit the Easter jackpot.
Cassie rounded the slide and found herself in a sea of eggs.
“My Easter egg basket is already full!” she shouted to her parents, just seconds into the hunt.
This is what the North Royalton Kiwanis lives for, to brighten youngsters’ day, hosting the annual Easter egg hunt dating back 40 years or more. “Do good, feel good” and “kids count” aren’t just words. The group truly lives by them.
Island Jeff Cavallo, a Kiwanian, was a gatekeeper, letting kids into the hunt.
“We love seeing the kids. They are so giddy,” he said. “Next year, we’ll order better weather, but no matter what, the Kiwanis is always excited to put this on.”
Back inside the playground, Savannah Duganier, 15, was one of several North Royalton High School Key Club members, the youth version of Kiwanis, hiding eggs.
“I remember doing this as a kid and thought it would be fun, so I volunteered,” she said, as she strategically placed eggs, just a handful of the 5,000 total packaged with candy by the Royalton Woods Retirement Community.
“They got it done in 2 hours and 15 minutes,” Linda Arduini smiled proudly, a Kiwanis member who works at Royalton Woods. “They worked hard and enjoy doing this.”
Those residents also donated Easter cookies for the kids, which Kiwanian and North Royalton Library Branch Manager Jeanne Cilenti handed out.
“They are so cute,” she said watching the kiddos dash after eggs.
It was truly a traditional Cleveland spring day with snow flurries, but it didn’t dampen the Easter spirit. Some 200 kids or better lined up with their parents and grandparents for the egg hunt’s grand return to Memorial Park’s new playground, a project that Council President Larry Antoskiewicz worked heavily on.
He was happy to see families enjoying the festivities and brought his own grandchildren to experience the fun. The playground was such a huge hit, many of the kids practically had to be dragged away by their parents.
“It’s nice to see the new playground being utilized for such a fun event. And,” he chuckled, “while the kids were hunting for eggs, a lot of them were very interested in playing on the slides and swings. Despite the weather, we still had a great turnout, and we appreciate all the Kiwanis does.”
Bridget Harper, of Brooklyn, admired the playground from the line.
“I like it a lot,” she said. “I like how it’s enclosed to keep the kids contained.”
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw waited in line with his soon-to-be stepson Henry Schuld, 9.
“We did not let the cold hold us back from all the fun,” he smiled.
It wouldn’t be an Easter egg hunt without the guest of honor himself.
Jackson Brinn, 6, of North Royalton, discovered the Easter Bunny is a bit of a prankster. Each time Jackson went to high five him, the funny bunny would move his hands at that last second.
Jackson’s big brother Alex, 10, and big sister Gabrielle, 12, were also there. It’s a family tradition for them.
“We do this every year since she was just a baby,” their mother Lesil said, gesturing at Gabrielle. “We love this.”