Crowds gather for Eagle River Easter egg drop
At a Saturday morning Easter egg hunt at Eagle River High School, the Easter bunny was just for show: Most of the eggs were delivered by a Robinson R44 helicopter instead.
Featuring candy dropped from the sky, the third annual ACF Church Egg Drop drew hundreds of families from Chugiak-Eagle River and beyond. Cars packed the high school parking lot, spilling out onto Yosemite Drive. Food trucks lined the curb, bounce houses swayed in the breeze and kids and parents flooded the high school field. The event was free and open to the public.
Two years ago, the first egg drop was held at the Eagle River church, said Stuart Poteet, dicipleship pastor at the church. Last year, the event outgrew the church and moved to the high school, where fog on the day of the drop kept the helicopter from flying.
This year, the helicopter took off under clear blue skies and a bright spring sun. The high school grounds buzzed with activity starting early in the day. Volunteers were on site before 9 a.m., shoveling snow and setting up safety cones. By 9:30 a.m. families were already streaming toward the drop zone.
For many kids — like 8-year-old Maryanna Bushue and her brother, 6-year-old Kavan — the Saturday egg drop was their first. The siblings said they spent some time on the bounce houses, but they were more excited about something else.
The event featured more than 32,000 of them.
They were distributed in waves and divided by age. A separate area featured an Easter egg hunt for toddlers. On the main field, the helicopter egg drop was divided into two groups. Kids age 4 through first grade would collect their eggs first; older hunters would follow.
By 11 a.m., children clutching Easter baskets and yellow plastic bags stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the edge of the field. At 11:08, volunteers led kids in a chant: “We want eggs! We want eggs!” At 11:12, a costumed Easter bunny took a celebratory lap around the field, pumping his fist and offering high-fives.
When the helicopter finally appeared overhead, kids gasped and cheered. Eggs tumbled across the field like colorful hailstones, pushed by the wash from the helicopter’s two-bladed main rotor. When the helicopter pulled away, the volunteers parted, the countdown began and the first wave of kids poured onto the field. The egg rush was over in minutes.
According to 9-year-old Zayla Doubek, the trick is speed. An Easter egg hunt veteran, Doubek has participated in all three ACF Church Egg Drops.
“It was real foggy last year and the helicopter didn’t come,” she said.
This year, she was ready for it.
Poteet said watching kids like Doubek enj0y the event is its own reward.
“We are part of the community — we all live here, we love Eagle River — and we want to make sure that we are carrying our weight in the community,” said Stuart Poteet, discipleship pastor at ACF Church. “We want to bring our community together.”
Chugiak-Eagle River children who missed out on the egg drop still have a chance to gather up candy- and prize-filled easter eggs on Easter Sunday, when the Eagle River Lions will host their annual Easter Egg Hunt at 1 p.m. (sharp!) at Eagle River Lions Park at the corner of Eagle River Road and Eagle River Loop Road. Organizers said the hunt begins when the fire whistle blows and will be over in a matter of minutes.