Happy hunting

Within minutes, the lawn around SUNY Fredonia President Virginia Horvath’s house went from decorated with a full palette of pastel dots, to clean green on Sunday afternoon.

Almost 300 kids, ages 2 through 10, came from across Chautauqua County to participate in the college’s fourth annual Spring Egg Hunt organized by the Delta Chi fraternity – almost double the engagement than the event has seen before.

Carl Raffa, SUNY Fredonia student and vice president of Delta Chi, attributes the growth in attendance most obviously to the nice weather, but also to the increased effort in organization.

“The weather has never been this good by far,” Raffa said. “But we’ve also been having growth through generation. We’ve done just about all we can to organize the egg hunt to give back to our community that gives us so much.”

The festival included a petting zoo with animals brought from local farms, as well as face painting and other crafts organized by friends of the fraternity. The candy, chocolate and prizes that filled the eggs were donated by local businesses.

Children lined the edge of the grass, eagerly waiting for the countdown to the hunt to begin. Given the signal, the children and their parents scrambled for the eggs that hid the best candy and prizes, and as they eagerly opened their eggs, Tootsie Rolls were traded for Starbursts and cheers were heard from those lucky enough to find winning tickets. For one Fredonia boy, it was an afternoon worth celebrating.

Five-year-old Fidel Y. Olme went to the egg hunt for the fun, never expecting to go home the owner of a brand new bike – one of two donated to Delta Chi by the Fredonia Wal-Mart. This was the first year he and his father, Fidel Olme, participated in the festival.

“I just wanted him to have fun, and to have fun with him,” Olme said. “I thought he would like getting to meet other kids and families from Fredonia.”

Through a shy smile, young Fidel agreed that there was a lot of fun to be had Sunday afternoon with the face painting, petting zoo and arts and crafts. His favorite, of course, was the egg hunt.

For event organizer Ralph Rivas, seeing the joy on the faces of the participants makes the effort of putting the egg hunt together worthwhile. It was his idea to bring in a miniature horse, more animals and more crafts and face painting.

“I really hope the kids have fun. When I was growing up I didn’t get to go to events like this – and this is memorable. It’s so heartwarming to see a kid so excited. Everyone is trembling, like ‘Yeah, let’s go get it!'” Rivas said.

Next year, Rivas hopes to add bigger and better activities to bring even more enjoyment.

“You never know,” Rivas said. “Maybe we’ll have things like a live band, or even a magician. Anything to have fun.”