Annual Easter egg hunt exceeds expectations

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It was the best turnout in the history of the Hillsboro Easter Egg Hunt with all 240 Easter baskets being handed out to youngsters up to age 10.

The Kiwanis Club sponsored the event Saturday and, at one point with only a few baskets left, coordinators started thinking they might need a contingency plan.

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Jeff Boese of Goessel keeps a close eye on daughter Allison, 16 months, as she looks for candy eggs in the Memorial Park grass during Saturday?s Easter Egg Hunt in Hillsboro. This year?s event, aided by beautiful spring weather, drew a record number of participants.

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Jack Nickel, 2-year-old son of Darcy and Keela Nickel of Goessel, hussles for candy during Satur?day?s egg hunt.

?This is the closest we have ever come (to running out of baskets),? said Hank Wiebe, Kiwanis Club member.

Holding the last two baskets in her hand, Susan Watkins, also with the club, said she has never seen anything like this.

?It?s never been down to the wire,? she said. ?Most years, we have between 40 to 75 baskets left over.?

For more than 40 years, the annual Easter Egg Hunt has been a highlight for children. Wiebe said it wouldn?t be possible without the help of local business owners.

Each year, club members visit merchants and ask if they will sponsor a basket by donating $5 for each one.

Most businesses usually buy three baskets for $15, but some have bought even six or nine, Kiwanis Club member Clint Seibel said.

Using the cash donations, the Kiwanis Club then buys a big chocolate rabbit and other candies.

This year, Wiebe said, Kiwanis Club members worked two hours Thursday to fill each basket for Saturday?s Easter Egg Hunt.

Those volunteers included Wiebe, Jane and Carl Long, Seibel, Rod Hamm, Mike Ryan, Brad Bartel, Katherine DeFillips, Irv Schroeder and Jim Brennan.

The Easter Egg Hunt was first started in 1972 by the Hillsboro Jaycees, but after the club disbanded, Kiwanis members took it over in the 1980s.

Brennan said the event was first held at Tabor College and then later moved to Memorial Park.

As for attendance, he said it?s basically been about the same each year with 240 baskets being more than enough.

It all depends on the weather and this year, Saturday was a wonderful day for the event, Seibel said.

In addition to the outstanding turnout, many families were there for the first time, which might have added to higher attendance.

New parents Jeff and Tina Boese of Goessel brought their daughter, Allison, 16 months.

?We read (about the Easter Egg Hunt) in the Free Press,? Jeff said.

Darcy and Keela Nickel, also from Goessel, said their children, Justin, 4, Alexandria, 6, and Jack, 2, were all excited for the event to start.

Gina Edwards and her daughter, Keitra, 2, were also first-timers.

Tracy Hefley said her children, Reese, 4, and Cooper, 18 months, were also excited and ready for the event to begin.

Kim Hamm, who grew up in Hillsboro, was back for a visit from Beloit with her family.

Riley Johnston, 2, and his father, Jim, were ready for the Easter egg hunt as was Reagan Frantz, whose parents are Austin and Johnna.

?We were back to see Austin?s parents, Leonard and Jan Frantz,? said Johnna, who grew up in northwest Kansas and where the couple live now.

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