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3,000 eggs await Easter morn

For the 62nd year the Ashland Rotary Club will hide Easter eggs in Lithia Park — 3,000 to be exact.

The Easter bunny will be waiting at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at the Lithia Park Tennis Court area for kids to find the hidden eggs and 125 pounds of candy, past Rotary Club President Pete Belcastro said.

“It goes quick, we say 1 o’clock sharp because if you’re late, you’ll miss it,” Belcastro said.

There are five roped-off sections for different age groups, all clearly marked: 2 years and younger, 3- and 4-year-olds, 5- and 6-year-olds, 7- and 8-year-olds and 9- and 10-year-olds.

The Easter bunny is happy to take pictures with kids, and he might even give away some balloons.

“A lot of churches have private Easter egg hunts, but this is open to everybody,” Belcastro said. “Easter means a lot to a lot of people, and we see the diversity of our valley at this event every year.”

He said several thousand people participate each year.

You’re probably thinking that these are plastic eggs filled with candy and prizes, and while some of them are, the majority of the 3,000 eggs are hand-dyed by staff and students at the Southern Oregon University dining facility.

Belcastro said SOU has been dyeing the eggs for the Rotary Club since the beginning.

Josh Lanier, Dining Services general manager, said it only takes 2-3 people several hours during down time thanks to the large-batch cooking equipment at the dining facility.

“It takes a lot of space and a large amount of equipment,” Lanier said. “We’re probably the largest kitchen here in Ashland.”

He said every year the Rotary Club buys the eggs and drops them off on Wednesday, and his staff hard-boils them. The eggs are dyed on Thursday and sent back to the Rotary Club Friday.

“We enjoy doing it,” Lanier said. “We’re able to help out the community by getting all the eggs prepared, and the kids are able to have a nice Easter egg hunt.”

Belcastro said the Rotary Club took over the event in 1957 after the Ashland Active Club said it couldn’t do it anymore. The baton was handed off, and the Rotary Club has held it ever since.

“We’re seeing a third generation of people come to the event now,” Belcastro said. “We’re seeing people who came when they were kids bringing their grandkids.”

The SOU Rotoract club and Ashland High School Interact Club help as well.

It takes about 30 volunteers to put the event together.

“There’s no rain,” Belcastro said. “We’re all set, so we’ll do it again.”

Sunday is forecast to be mostly sunny with a high near 69 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

A young boy hugs the Easter Bunny at a past Ashland Rotary Club Easter Egg Hunt in Lithia Park. Photo courtesy of the Ashland Rotary Club.{ }