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Winning at the Battleview Orchards Easter Egg Hunt

After a move from North Jersey, this columnist views the sights, sounds and tastes of Freehold through fresh eyes.

The annual egg hunt at Battleview Orchards was held Sunday, April 17 following a rain delay on Saturday, April 16. The event boasted 4,000 eggs stuffed with all sorts of sugary delights. I was disappointed to learn that kids over 10 were not invited to partake in the hunt, as I had already picked up a basket for myself. But that's OK: seven-year-old Aiden and five-year-old Cameron would egg hunt for me by proxy. That was the idea, anyway.

To tip things in our favor I showed up at the Battleview Orchards store to register the boys promptly at 11 a.m. I received two Easter pencils for them, two raffle tickets and instructions. I made a face at the part that said adults were not allowed to help the kids with the hunt. Is there any fun left for people over the age of 30?

Everything I'd read and heard about the egg hunt said that 4,000 eggs would be hidden all around and ready for the taking. In my head I was already stuffing my face with the extra candy the kids couldn't eat because they were so bloated from their chocolate consumption and up to their ankles in candy wrappers. My feeble, plastic egg counting brain couldn't comprehend 4,000 eggs.

The woman who handed me all the stuff at registration asked if we had baskets or if we needed a plastic bag. What kind of rookie did she think I was to show up at an egg hunt without a receptacle for holding all the glorious candy-jammed eggs? No, we would not be needing a plastic bag for the hundreds of eggs we planned on scooping up under the noses of less prepared children. The bags could only hold a small fraction of the valuable plastic we'd find later in the afternoon.

The official start time for the egg hunt was 2 p.m. so we still had a few hours to go after registration. While other kids were poring over maps of the orchard, doing calisthenics and doubling up on their leg stretches we watched TV and put the hunt out of our mind. This was going to be like taking candy from kids.

We arrived early and parked looking down on the orchard. I love the wide open space and being able to look up at a big sky, but I couldn't let the scenic view distract me from the task at hand. There were eggs to be basketed.

This egg hunt was actually broken up into two different sections. One for kids age three years and under and the other for kids four and up. I have to admit that for a minute I considered letting the boys loose in the area with the kids three and under but thought it would be to obvious when we left with 300 eggs each. Besides, there was no need for petty scams. These kids knew how to maneuver the field and maximize their returns. I'd been coaching them for the last week on what to do and what not to do. Now it was game time.

All the kids were lined up ready to go. I looked at my watch and nodded knowingly at Aiden and Cameron. They nodded back.

And then they were off. As they ran off into the big field I thought up witty things I'd say to the other kids as they watched Aiden and Cameron lug giant mounds of eggs over to me.

"There's too many to count, we'll have to weigh them!"

"I wonder if we can get a U-haul on a Sunday?"

They boys disappeared into a sea of kids and adults. I wondered if I should pull the car up to the edge of the field and pop open the trunk while they scavenged. Nah, I'll just ask some of the less fortunate egg hunters to help us bring our eggs to the car. I dug in my pocket for some nickels to pay the helper kids.

While walking through the orchard I noticed the grass beneath my feet was already bare. The eggs were going quickly.

Looking up, the boys were already heading back. Probably to drop off a few hundred eggs before finishing up. I smiled. All those hours of lecturing them had paid off. There faces right now were so serious, they understood that this was a competition and that competitions were meant to be won.

I pumped my fist in the air to signify victory. They both looked at me blankly. My fist shaked back and forth again. Still nothing.

Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

They stopped in front of me. I looked down into their baskets.

Battleview Orchard was filled with 4,000 eggs. Everywhere you looked there were eggs under foot. 4,000 of them.

Aiden and Cameron had each found three of those 4,000 eggs.

"I don't like this," Aiden said.

"There are no more eggs," Cameron said.

How could this happen? I had to think fast otherwise I’d have two pretty unhappy kids on my hands.

I looked around. "Don't worry guys, there's a lot of kids here. Everyone only got a few eggs." Unfortunately, this line of thinking only held up for about 12 seconds.

"Nooooo," said Cameron and pointed at two kids behind us. They each had huge overflowing baskets of eggs.

"They must have brought their own eggs from home. That's impossible," I said. My voice cracked a little.

In that moment we all learned an important lesson. Maybe the most important egg hunting lesson. Don't stay with the crowd. Run off to where nobody else is. It's no sense in fighting the crowd. If you try it you’ll likely wind up with five lonely eggs. Or maybe just three.

"Guys, we still have the raffle tickets. We might win some big prizes. If we win I'll jump up and down like a crazy person."

They weren't listening. They were digging into their three eggs. We made our way to a white pickup truck to hear the raffle tickets being called.

The numbers being read off were way off from the numbers we had. Probably because I had one of the first tickets and they were probably down at the bottom of the ticket pile.

Everything I thought I knew about egg hunting and raffles went out the door. They kept calling numbers and the boys kept saying, "Is that our number?"

I kneeled down and pulled them into a huddle.

"Guys, there is one last test today that I didn’t tell you about. It's a race. To the cars. I think we have a pretty good chance of taking this."

With those words they were off. As fast as the wind (probably because they didn't hardly have any candy weighing them down in stomach or basket).

We drove off, leaving 3,994 eggs behind us but feeling like winners anyway.

Art April 19, 2011 at 03:05 AM
I was there with my daughter. At age 2, she managed to snag 6 eggs on her own, but then gave away 2 to a boy who came a little late (as we did last year, and left empty-handed). My raffle ticket ended in 594. Of course, they called 593, and 595. My wife said, "Don't worry, it was dollar store stuff anyway." I know, but I still like to win. :)

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