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  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Elliott Slater, 3, checks out one of his prizes from the Easter egg hunt Saturday at Pathway Community Church.

  • Children and parents wait for the start of Pathway’s Easter egg hunt, which was forced indoors by poor weather.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Children search for eggs as the parents watch behind them during an Easter Egg Hunt at Pathway Community Church on Saturday March 31, 2018. VIDEO

Sunday, April 01, 2018 1:00 am

Hundreds drawn indoors for Easter egg hunt

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

Saturday wasn't exactly a good day for the Easter bunny – or his helpers.

If a brisk wind wasn't making his long pink ears turn blue, then rain was soaking his cottony tail. Or the resulting mud was dirtying his pretty white fur.

Meanwhile, those seeking to assist his delivery of candy found themselves hopping to find indoor locales for the day's egg-citing activities.

At least that's what happened to helpers Saturday at Pathway Community Church, where organizers put Plan B into effect for a 2 p.m. egg hunt, the church's first.

Bunny aides heard Thursday that the weather might be windy, rainy and cold, so they decided to move the event inside the sanctuary building off Carroll Road in northwest Fort Wayne, said Crystal Ward, event coordinator. 

“We took two huge barrels with 2,000 (plastic) eggs and dumped them in the corridor and over there,” she said, pointing to an open area at the far end of the church lobby.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, that weather forecast got around, and, via social media and word of mouth, so did news of the move indoors.

By 15 minutes before the start of the first egg hunt for preschoolers, hundreds of parents and children were crowding shoulder to shoulder in the church lobby. The crowd did not thin much until after the second hunt, for elementary school children.

“We wanted to bring him to an Easter egg hunt,” said Cassie Morris of Fort Wayne, hanging on to the hand of her 3-year-old son, Ezekiel Morris, while waiting for the scramble to begin.

She said she heard the news the event would be inside from Facebook and a friend who is a Pathway member.

“I figured it would be busy, but I didn't know it would be this busy,” she said, carrying her 4-month-old daughter Eve in a baby sling while her husband Jacob tended to son Elijah, 18 months, who had decided he was not much of a fan of crowds.

Jennifer Barnes, 32, of Fort Wayne, a Pathway member, brought her daughter Sophie Barnes, 5. She said her heart went out to organizers who had to change plans.

“We just have so many members. It's a big church,” she said, adding that many people in the community sought out the church because the hunt wasn't outside.

“There's no way we would have been standing outside in weather like this,” she said.

Although some younger children seemed perplexed at what to do at the start of the hunt, Keegan Friend, 5, was not one of them, said his dad Jeff Friend, 41, of Fort Wayne.

“He got right up front,” he said, while opening some of his son's half-dozen eggs, filled with candy and stickers and snug in a soft-sided Paw Patrol basket.

 “He was fast,” Jeff Friend added. “Well, you kind of had to be with so many kids out there.”

rsalter@jg.net