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Eggs-cellent Easter celebration in Forest Park

Michael Leonard, 18 months, with Peter Cottontail at Forest Park’s annual Easter egg hunt Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

Michael Leonard, 18 months, with Peter Cottontail at Forest Park’s annual Easter egg hunt Saturday. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Nevaeh Leonard, 5, high-fives the Easter bunny as Isaiah Davis, 6, in red, and Javon Leonard, 6, watch. The three are Forest Park students. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Some kids wait for the hunt to begin by coloring drawings of the Easter bunny. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Part of Saturday’s fun included a bouncy house. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Gabe Stovall and his son count the eggs he collected Saturday — 25. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Once the siren sounded, dozens of Forest Park kids hit the field to collect plastic eggs. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Kids eagerly await the siren sound marking the start of the egg collection. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Kids up to age 10 march onto the stadium field Saturday to wait for the start of the Easter egg hunt. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Parents could help their toddlers locate eggs but could not pick them up. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

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Moms hold bags for their small children to put in plastic eggs during Saturday’s hunt. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)

FOREST PARK — Candy-colored plastic eggs rested among blades of green grass under the bright midday sun — tantalizingly within reach but off-limits.

The anticipation was agonizing for the dozens of children from infants to 10 whose chubby hands clutched bags, buckets and baskets ready for the gathering.

Two high school students kept watch at the gate, ensuring no one got onto the stadium field until the appointed time.

Some would-be egg hunters sat at tent-covered tables and colored drawings of Peter Cottontail while they waited. Others stood next to two human-sized versions of the Easter bunny and had their photos taken. There was also a bouncy house to distract the kids until the hunt began.

All were anxious for the annual festivities to begin.

Just before noon, organizers — parks and recreation employees — called for the kids to line up. High school students led the eager hunters and gatherers onto the field, which was drawn off into sections according to age group.

Minutes later, a siren blasted from a fire truck signaling the start of the hunt. The squealing masses burst onto the field, scooping up plastic eggs and pouches of jelly beans.

Within seconds, the ground was stripped clean.