By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer
TAHLEQUAH – When Alexander Richmond got done with his Easter egg hunting, he offered his basket to anyone who walked by and with a smile on his face repeated one word: “Eggs.”
The toddler was one of almost 200 kids who showed up Saturday afternoon for the United Keetoowah Band’s eighth annual Easter Egg Hunt. They searched for more than 3,000 eggs hidden in the grass at the Keetoowah Celebration Grounds.
Talisha Cheater brought five children that she was baby-sitting. They all had a lot of fun, she said.
“I think this is a really good event for the kids,” Cheater said. “It gives them a chance to get out of the house and gives them something to do.”
Almost 400 people attended the event. More had been expected, but attendance was held at bay by drizzle and a chilly 40-degree temperature. Those who did come out were bundled up and smiling, each expecting to win a prize for collecting the most eggs in their age group.
Jacob Rubio, 10, said this was his first year at the hunt, and he thought it was a good one.
“I found about 15 eggs,” Jacob said. “Some of them didn’t have candy in them, and I like the ones with candy in them the best.”
Many of the eggs were stuffed with candy or prizes. During lulls in the action, many of the kids cracked them open to extract the sweet treats within.
Brenda Locust, the special events coordinator for the UKB, said the Women’s Missionary Union from Elm Street Baptist Church in Tahlequah helped fill the eggs.
“We could not have done this without all the help we get,” she said. “We have so many people who volunteer their time to make it easier.
“We try to make this day all about the kids. The weather might have scared some people off, but everyone who came out seemed to have a very good time.”
Locust also said the hunt has been modified throughout the years to better fit a younger crowd.
“Years back, they had a dinner out here, and live music,” she said. “Then we decided to take that away and focus more on the kids. We are all about our kids and our elders.”
Although the participants didn’t seem to miss the meal, they did seem to appreciate the space heaters provided under the pavilion during the introductions and ceremonies that followed.
Steven Johnston, a security officer at the UKB casino in Tahlequah, said he’s been to several egg hunts and loves bringing his family.
“They found lots of eggs this year,” he said. “It was a little cool out here, and I thought it might be too cold, but I’m glad they still had it. It’s good for the Cherokee people.”
That’s exactly why the UKB keeps putting it on, Locust said.
“We’ll be back here next year,” she said.
You can reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.