Weekend Ticket: 64th annual Community Easter Egg Hunt set for Saturday
NATCHEZ — For decades, hundreds of children from all around the Miss-Lou line up at Duncan Park each year on Saturday morning before Easter, where thousands of brightly colored eggs were waiting to be found.
The 64th Annual Miss-Lou Easter Egg Hunt begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Duncan Park. Bob Ewing, organizer and promoter of the festivities, said the event is free to all children 8 years old and younger.
In previous hunts, Ewing said children would arrive as early as 8 a.m. — some of them gripping Easter baskets and some with plastic bags — and wait in anticipation for him to blow his whistle at 10 a.m. for the hunt to begin.
“To me, the Miss-Lou Easter Egg Hunt is an iconic event in the city of Natchez,” Ewing said. “I don’t have to do any advertising or anything and hundreds of kids will still show up Saturday morning at Duncan Park.”
Ewing said his father, P.K. Ewing, started the hunt 64 years ago at the former Natchez Children’s Home, where he would hide painted and dyed hard-boiled eggs. Since then, the event has moved to accommodate 400 or more children who have shown up faithfully to the event year after year.
Ewing took charge of hosting the hunt nearly 27 years ago, he said. While the children waited he would scatter thousands of eggs on the hills of Duncan Park, some of them stuffed with candy and others with numbered slips of paper hidden inside.
The numbers correspond with numbered boxes that hold various prizes that would not fit inside of plastic eggs — stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels, 5 or 6 bicycles and other prizes.
As soon as he blows his whistle, Ewing said the children take off at a run and have most of the eggs gathered in minutes.
“When you get out there, the first thing you’re going to think is ‘Holy smokes, look at all of these toys,’’’ Ewing said. “This isn’t just the stuff you get from the dollar store. This is good stuff. … I’ve got more good toys this year than I’ve ever had.”
Ewing said he started collecting donations from local business owners and sponsors of the hunt around the winter holidays and began shopping for toys in January.
“I have a good relationship with the merchants here,” he said. “They’ll set aside what they’re about to mark down for me to come get. … It’s a well-known Natchez event. There are smaller Easter egg hunts at churches here and there, but none of them are this big.”