Not eggs-actly as planned
‘False start’ disrupts annual hunt; OCCA tries to make amends
“Are you ready for the Easter Bunny?”
Diane Dimbat, first-time organizer of the annual Easter Egg Hunt for the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group, expected to hear a loud “Yes” from the 300 or so parents and children April 11 at Bancroft Park.
After all, it was still 15 minutes till the scheduled 12:30 p.m. start of the separate hunts for ages 3-and-under and 4-5.
Instead, to her horror, some kids and parents took her comment as a signal to push past the tape barriers leading to an overall dash to scoop up the roughly 4,000 plastic eggs containing candy and prize slips that OCCA volunteers had set out on the Bancroft lawn.
Within a minute or so, all of the eggs were gone. Some kids were seen with overflowing baskets; others, who were younger or didn't react quickly enough, came away with little or none. Meanwhile, other parents were still arriving at the park, expecting the advertised starting time, then discovering they'd missed out.
So Dimbat responded as best she could - she hastily set up another hunt, with no age distinction, after scrounging for any little toys or trinkets that could be found in the merchants' office off 25th Street. Before it started, she said through a megaphone, “I know some of you are upset. We're sorry about what happened. We're trying to make amends.”
In an interview afterward, Dimbat apologized again. “It was a very emotional 15 minutes,” she said, recalling that a few people spoke sharply to her for allowing the event to get out of control; meanwhile, she was trying to find toys for any children she saw who'd missed out.
Describing what happened as a “false start” she said she sensed a kind of “mob mentality” - possibly resulting from everyone being cold, from some parents being frustrated by having gone to an earlier egg hunt that got cancelled and from others having waited so long at Bancroft Park (a few since 9 a.m.) because some website had given a wrong time for the OCCA event.
But once the “make-amends” hunt went off without a hitch, Dimbat started feeling better. She was able to follow it up with a “scavenger hunt” through Old Colorado City and its stores (which had been advertised), and 30 or so parents and children participated. Dimbat also made up with a lady who had initially gotten angry with her but told her later she appreciated the on-the-spot scheduling of a second hunt. “She came up at the end,” Dimbat recalled, “and said, 'I was way out of line for yelling at you,' and I said, 'It's OK, it's for the kids,' and we hugged.”
Area resident Zac Gorrell's two small children also missed out on the regular hunt, but were able to participate in the make-up event. “It was disappointing, but this made it better,” he said.
Another misunderstanding for event attendees related to the advance advertising that there would be free face-painting, balloon-twisting, popcorn and ice cream - as has been the case at past OCCA Easter Egg Hunts. Only one of these was offered, and it wasn't in the park. Dimbat explained that the popcorn was available in front of an Old Colorado City store; meanwhile, the ice cream plans fell through (it too would have occurred in front of a store), and the balloon-twister and face-painter cancelled.
Another advertised activity that did not happen - because of the issues with the false-start hunt - was the ages 6-8 hunt that would have occurred after the scavenger activity, Dimbat said.
At their regular meeting April 14, Dimbat said OCCA board members gave her “a sense of relief” about the event. From their point of view, the false start could have happened to anyone, and the hunt had served a major goal, which was to bring people into Old Colorado City itself. In previous years, it had been billed as a “thank- you” to the Westside neighborhood. But the downside of that, according to Dimbat, was that people would just “take their eggs and leave” - never even visiting the stores of the merchants who had made the event possible.
In any case, despite the snags, Dimbat said the merchants hope to continue the Egg Hunt tradition next year.
Westside Pioneer article