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Groton hosts socially distant drive-thru Easter egg event

The Easter Bunny hopped through the parking lot of the City of Groton Municipal Building on Saturday morning as volunteers handed colorful candy-filled eggs through car windows and into the eager hands of excited children, during the first-ever drive-thru Easter Eggstravaganza.

The fluffy white bunny with bright blue eyes waved to kids and shook its cotton tail to the beat of ABBA and the Bee Gees as a steady stream of cars drove through the parking lot for the socially distant celebration.

When last year’s Easter egg hunt was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of unused eggs were packed away in the basement for more than a year. This year, the department was determined to find a safe way to make it a pandemic-friendly event.

Mary Hill, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said she and her team came up with the idea for a drive-thru Easter egg giveaway so that kids in the community could still collect some eggs and say hello to the Easter Bunny while staying outside and 6 feet apart.

Volunteers and staff filled nearly 500 brightly colored plastic eggs with candy and toys and packaged up the eggs so that each child received an individual, safely sealed bag. City employees, residents and the mayor handed out the packages to eager hands stuck out of backseat windows.

Megan and Scott Chapin made three laps through the Easter Eggstravaganza at their 2-year-old daughter Cecelia’s request. On their last round, the Easter Bunny came over to say hello — and show off some dance moves — as Cecelia waved from her car seat and said, “Hi, bunny!” while clutching her bag of colorful eggs.

The Chapins said their daughter loved the drive-thru event and kept asking to go through again.

“This was great because she got to see him multiple times,” said Megan Chapin, who said that at a traditional holiday photo-op, her daughter likely would have only gotten to snap a quick photo with the Easter Bunny before it was another child’s turn. The Chapins, of Groton, said that throughout the pandemic, they’ve been enjoying creative, safe events hosted in their town.

“We’re very appreciative that Groton was able to put this on,” Scott Chapin said.

For 11-month-old Syre Young, the drive-thru was a chance to see the Easter Bunny for the very first time.

As Syre played with his package of Easter eggs, his mother, Willow Young, said she brought her son to the drive-thru event “so he could get a feel of what Easter is, even though it’s different this year.”

Her mother Cay Young, who was driving on Saturday, said she took Willow on the Easter egg hunt at the municipal building when she was young and was happy that they could carry on the tradition in some way for her grandson.

Hill, who planned the event, said that in a typical year the lawns of the municipal building are covered in eggs and about 300 children come out to gather them up during the city’s Easter egg hunt.

“We wanted to do something this year because we missed it last year,” she said. So she and her team came up with the idea for the Eggstravaganza, and residents seemed pleased that she did. Before the event started at 10 a.m., two long lines of cars waited in the parking lot.

Mayor Keith Hedrick said he was very excited the city was able to host an Easter event this year after having to cancel last year’s. “I love these events, they’re just so much fun,” he said as he handed a bag of eggs to an excited girl wearing yellow bunny ears.

“By doing it this way we’re still able to give out the eggs to children but in a safe way, we’re wearing our masks and it’s socially distanced and we’re outside,” he said.

The mayor said he hopes events like this allow residents to feel connected to their community despite all the challenges of the pandemic. “We’re trying to get back to some sense of normal,” he said. “This gets people out of the house and gives kids something to do that’s positive, and we all need that positive stimulation and sense of community.”

Eliza and Sean Law of Ledyard drove through the event with their three children: 1-year-old Liam, 5-year-old Noah and 7-year-old Kaelyn.

The parents said they normally take their kids to see the Easter Bunny in Ledyard, but the event in their hometown was canceled due to COVID-19.

Eliza Law said they were happy that the City of Groton was hosting the event so their children were able to see the Easter Bunny somewhere this year, even if it wasn’t in the most traditional way.


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