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Easter egg hunts, basket giveaways draw hundreds of kids on South Side

Kids take their Easter baskets at an egg hunt in Washington Park. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

A silence fell over Washington Park, other than the couple dozen seagulls squawking overhead, as the anticipation mounted and the countdown began.

“Three, two, one, go!”

With that, a few hundred screaming children rushed into the field to collect Easter eggs that had been laid down for First Bethel M.B. Church’s third annual Easter egg hunt on Saturday afternoon.

“We wanted to give kids a safe haven,” First Bethel Pastor Cornelius Parks said. “An opportunity to just come out, run wild and reckless and go out into the park and just have fun.”

Kids rush to collect Easter eggs at an egg hunt in Washington Park. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times
Kids rush to collect Easter eggs at an egg hunt in Washington Park. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

Parks’ own 11-year-old joined in on the action, while his 24-year-old daughter manned a face-painting station. After a few rounds of egg hunts, volunteers handed out about 500 Easter baskets filled with candy, cookies and toys.

Ryan Young, 39, was happy to find an event close to his Bronzeville home that he could bring his 5-year-old daughter to for her first outdoor Easter egg hunt.

“She’s having a ball,” Young said, his jacket pockets bulging with the egg she found. “It’s great weather, good for the kids, great for the community.”

Over in Englewood, kids headed to the Salvation Army Red Shield Center to grab one the thousands of Easter baskets being given away.

Lisa Johnson learned about the giveaway when she looked out the window of her home and saw one family after another walking down the sidewalk with baskets.

The 55-year-old grabbed her three grandchildren and walked down 69th Street toward the flashing lights of two Chicago police squad cars that were there to greet kids.

“Its beautiful,” Johnson said after her grandchildren — two 9-year-olds and a 3-year-old — grabbed their baskets and took pictures with Black Panther.

“The kids love it, and it’s great for underprivileged moms to have somewhere where they can get something for their kids on Easter,” she said.

A girl poses with Black Panther at an Easter basket giveaway in Englewood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times
A girl poses with Black Panther at an Easter basket giveaway in Englewood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

Bryant Reese, 45, spent all night driving from Atlanta with his two young sons — 4-year-old Khamari and 2-year-old Khayden — to visit his mother and a third son, who both live in Englewood.

“A lot of people don’t have nobody,” Reese said. “So it’s good where somebody can come in and give them something with no strings attached.”

The giveaway was hosted by community activist Andrew Holmes with help from the Chicago police and fire departments, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (16th) and former Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent.

The CPD and CFD each donated 1,000 coloring books, and the fire department additionally provided 800 toy helmets, Holmes said.

“I’m here for these kids smiling,” Holmes said.