Candy anyone?

Published 4:45 pm Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Easter Bunny was out and about delivering Easter baskets to a handful of lucky kids on Friday.

“The girls just love the idea of an Easter Bunny being here,” Chris Vogt said.

Families could schedule a visit by the Easter Bunny by calling the Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department in the days preceding. The bunny rode in a city vehicle while a good-hearted volunteer drove.

Email newsletter signup

Vogt had baskets delivered to two of her children, Stephanie, 6, and Jessica, 4. She said last year was their first getting a delivery.

“My 4-year-old’s been talking about it since last year so I know she’ll want the Easter Bunny to come next year, too,” Vogt said.

Vogt learned about the deliveries through a flier the Parks and Rec staff sent to the schools.

“I think it’s a nice service,” Vogt said.

Albert Lea Recreation Program Supervisor Jenny Davis is in charge of the program and said it’s been gaining popularity.

“I don’t know how it was when it first started, but every year I’ve been here there’s been an increase,” Davis said.

This year they had to turn some people down because they only ordered so much stuff to fill the baskets with.

“We’re at maximum capacity,” Davis said. “It seems to be anywhere upwards of 60 families.”

The baskets were purchased at Wal-Mart, and Davis and the staff at Parks and Rec stuffed the baskets with plastic grass, candy, games and toys. They’re decorated them with Easter themes.

“We try to do something different every year,” Davis said.

They try to alternate what they put in the baskets so that there’s a variety. Some of the toys they use are memory games, puzzles, silly putty and bubbles. There’s also a variety of candy with things like chocolates and suckers.

“Stephanie is playing with all the activities,” Vogt said. “Jessica is playing with the tattoos and the candy.”

The bunny is able to deliver to anyone within a five-mile radius of the city, and they map out the easiest route to drive around town. Most of the kids are excited about the bunny, but a few are afraid.

“Most of them are happy to see the bunny,” Davis said. “Seems to be every time we go out someone’s afraid or they won’t come out and they’ll hide behind their parents.”

Davis likes the program because most of the children are so excited to see the bunny.

“Just seeing the kids faces,” Davis said. “To see them all excited to get a basket.”

In addition to sending fliers to kids in school, the Parks and Rec advertised at the City Arena, City Hall and the Albert Lea Public Library. The deliveries are for kids anywhere from 1 to about 10 years old.

Delivering Easter baskets is one of the few holiday events they schedule, and it’s popular. They used to do a breakfast with Santa but didn’t get a lot of people for it. They also hold a candy cane hunt at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds in December.

“We love the bunny coming here,” Virginia Syvertson said. “It’s a good program.”

Syvertson’s daughter, Maria, 8, rifled through her basket to find all the toys after taking pictures with the bunny.

“They always put nice little trinkets in,” Syvertson said. “That’s her favorite part.”

Syvertson also reminded Maria she would have to share her treasures with her cousins.

Maria replied, “I have to.”

The Syvertson’s have had the Easter Bunny visit their house for the last four years.

Another family the bunny visited was the Murray’s. Madison is 4, Ayva is 3 and Sienna is 1. It was their first time seeing the bunny, and they were very surprised. They liked the candy and the tattoos best out of all the loot in their baskets.

The baskets cost $8 each for houses within city limits and $11 for houses outside city limits. The Easter Bunny is quite popular in Albert Lea, and the program seems to be growing. Parents like being able to take pictures of their kids with the bunny and get a basket of goodies delivered to their home.

“We’ve been doing it for quite a few years,” Davis said. “It’s pretty unique.”