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It was a bad day for at least one ‘Easter Bunny' last week

Happy Easter!

It was a bad day for the Easter bunny last week.

Translation: The cottontail I am referring to is not a real rabbit, but auction maven Leslie Hindman ­– who, for the past 20 years, has wriggled into a six-foot tall rented “Mr. Fluffo” Easter bunny costume and hopped through the Loop.

“I like to give spring an extra smile,” chirped Hindman, the inventor of the what Sneed has dubbed the “Fluffo frolics.”

Alas, this year, the happy thumper was in the dumper.

“I noticed a huge difference this year,” said the unhappy Hindman hare, who had ditched her three-foot rabbit head to eat a dish of egg scrapple at Ina’s restaurant on Randolph last Thursday. “No one was smiling . . . or seeming to notice . . . or even laughing . . . or jokingly trying to snatch candy from my basket,” she said.

“No one knows who I am in this costume. So I wore it to my favorite florist shop and they asked me not to bother the customers; I bumped into a jeweler who wanted me to scram because she was busy planning a luncheon, and a man hawking newspapers wanted to know if I had any cash instead of Easter candy.” He brightened up considerably when the bunny gave him some cash.

“People seemed gloomier than usual,” said Donna Heffner, who has joined Hindman on the bunny trail for the past two decades.

“I’m not sure what to make of it, but if I were a politician I might use it as a barometer of how people feel these days about the economy,” Hindman said.

Lunch was over. The bunny bill was picked up by adjacent diner O. Toni Randle,who couldn’t believe his eyes. At last peek, the cottontail was spotted heading down LaSalle toward the Private Bank to check on her nest egg.

“At least I know my banker will be nice to me,” Hindman said.

Praise ’em . . .

Congrats to:

â—†The Rev. Robert E. Barron, on being awarded the 2012 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin “As Those Who Serve” Award, which he’ll receive April 19 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. Barron, who launched “Word on Fire Catholic Ministries” in 2000, also produced the series “Catholicism,” which premiered on PBS to great acclaim. The event is sponsored by Cardinal Francis George and Mundelein Seminary.

â—†Chicago Police Officer Kurt Gawrich, on his Officer of the Year award from the National Association on Mental Illness for instructing fellow officers how to compassionately deal with those they encounter with mental problems.

The egg peg . . .

Sneed reader Kate van Dyke, a divorce coach, has a creative way to settle the nerves during Easter time. An avid Easter egg decorator, she admits: “There is a secret subterranean group of mad Easter egg decorators on the North Shore, who also work for a living.”

Check out the eggs!

Shaken, not stirred . . .

Gulp! James Bond, Agent 007, has been drinking martinis for decades. But something new is stirring.

â—†To wit: In the latest movie, “Skyfall,” which marks 50 years of the film franchise, James Bond (a k a actor Daniel Craig) will be drinking a Dutch brew – a Heineken!

Is nothing sacred?

Toe jam . . .

Is it true basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal’s good luck charm is blue toenails? His own? Just asking.

I spy . . .

Former Gov. Jim Thompson and family at Rosebud Steakhouse on Thursday . . . Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro at Harry Caray’s after the Cubs home opener Thursday.

Inclusive Inc. . . .

â—†A minority report: Top GOP tip . . . Sneed hears Aaron Del Mar, 33, whose father’s family hails from the Philippines, could become the first Asian American to head the Cook County Republican Party. “In fact, he’d be the first minority to get the job,” said former GOP Cook County Chair Liz Gorman.

â—†Femme fodder: Watch for DuPage County regional superintendent of schoolsDarlene Ruscitti to become the first female chair of the DuPage Republican Party, the state’s most powerful GOP stronghold. Ruscitti will replace beleaguered state Rep. Randy Ramey, the stepson of former Senate President Pate Philip. Why is he beleaguered? He just lost his bid for re-election to the Legislature after getting busted for a DUI.

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Julian Lennon, 49; Patricia Arquette, 44, and Kofi Annan, 74 . . . Monday’s birthdays: Kristen Stewart,22; Cynthia Nixon, 46; Dennis Quaid, 58, and Hugh Hefner, 86.