ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – In this community, when there is supposed to be an Easter Egg Hunt, nothing can stop it so long as Regina Hawley Keelan is Chairman of the Recreation Committee and Loretta Gluckstein is Mayor.
Nothing can stop it, even if it means having it a week or so early and having the Easter Bunny come to the youngsters seated a safe distance away in cars to get their Easter Eggs.
Keelan, who remembers attending the annual Easter Egg hunt in the borough when she was a youngster, came up with the idea to stage a Covid-19 style hunt Monday when she realized the Recreation committee had already purchased more than 3,000 pre-filled plastic eggs months ago. Each was individually wrapped and delivered before the first announcement of Covid-19 in the nation.
With the approval of the Mayor and Council, and with council members making the choice to reduce any possibility of spreading any virus by attending, the idea was broadcast on Facebook, the Borough website and the Atlantic Highlands elementary school. The idea was that the Easter Bunny, who the rest of the year is better known as Mayor Gluckstein, would be in front of Borough Hall for two hours in the afternoon, and parents were invited to drive past with their children, each of whom would receive a bag filled with colorful plastic toy and candy filled eggs. Youngsters were encouraged to hold their own hunts in the safety and separation of their own homes later on.
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They came, they got their bags from the Easter Bunny, they kept their distance, and best of all, they all laughed and had a great time.
“ I decided as the Chairwoman to change from our traditional egg hunt to this curbside pickup,” said Keelan. “I wanted to give the children of Atlantic Highlands a chance to see the Easter Bunny and participate in a modified holiday tradition in a safe and healthy way.” The chairman said the recreation committee typically runs an annual hunt but with the preventative measures in place, “that was not possible. So we modified the hunt to give the children some semblance of their typical lives.”
The Mayor and the Chairman seemed to have as much fun as the children. “ I want to thank the residents who stopped by with their children,” Keelan said. “I love to help and work on behalf of the town, but I often find it hard to promote participation. The families that stopped by showed me, as they always do in times of disaster or emergency, that we are a tight knit community. We need to rely on our community at times like these and adapt to the circumstances. I also want to thank the Easter Bunny for taking time out of her busy schedule to help us out!”
Keelan she said the general emotion in the atmosphere was “giddiness. The kids were so excited to be out of the house and to get a visit with the Easter Bunny”
Nor did the fun stop there. Typical of many families in the community, Brian and Erin Dougherty took their three children, Sloane, Piper and Beckett to the event, then, while the children sat inside in anticipation, they hid their eggs in flowers, bushes, low hanging trees and grass in front of their own home. For good measure, they expanded the hunt,, with approval, to the adjacent corner residence front lawn. That way, an elderly shut-in neighbor as well as passing motorists, could also enjoy the festivities, on the front lawn of former Mayor Helen Marchetti.
It was hard to tell who enjoyed the afternoon most!