Las Vegas children welcome Easter bunny with egg hunts valleywide

Children participate during the Hoppy Egg Run community event at the Walnut Recreation Center i ...

Toddlers and teens alike prepared for Easter a day early with dancing, photos with 6-foot-tall bunnies and thousands of plastic eggs.

At Walnut Recreation Center in northeast Las Vegas on Saturday, more than 2,000 children, separated into four age groups, had about 20 minutes to find the eggs and candy scattered across the grass. Eggs contained tickets for prizes such as a free cookie at Insomnia Cookies or a chocolate bunny.

“You get to hunt down Easter eggs, get all the chocolate and get fun prizes!” said Robert Garcia, 8. “I’m hoping for 218 eggs this year.”

Robert’s mother, Leila Hudgins, said Robert’s birthday is close to Easter and it’s his favorite holiday. Her 4-year-old daughter, Nathalei, also participated.

Richard DeClarcq, recreation supervisor for the center, said each of the four groups had a chance at 2,500 eggs and 2,000 pieces of candy. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation donated 700 Easter baskets families could pick up after the egg hunts.

“It’s a way for us to give back to the community and do a nice family event and introduce everyone if they are not used to coming to the park and say, ‘Hey, these are the things we do,’” he said.

New Las Vegas residents Kris and Veronica Reece helped their boys, 18-month-old Astor and 3-year-old Alaric, open their eggs after the race. The family moved here in August because Kris is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, and now they’re hoping to make the egg hunt an annual tradition.

“Back at our last base, any chance we got to go to Easter egg hunts, we did, and now that they’re getting older they can walk it on their own,” Veronica Reece said.

Samantha Gonzalez, a mother of four girls, took her 4-year-old daughter Tori and 6-year-old daughter Penelope to the egg hunt.

“We do a lot of community events with four kids,” Gonazalez said. “It’s fun for the kids, easy, it gets them outside and it’s safe.”

At the same time in the far northwest, about 400 children between 1 and 13 years old were cordoned off into smaller patches of grass at Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs to pick up eggs filled with fruit snacks and candy. All 20,000 eggs were picked up within 20 minutes, and families lined up for photos with the Easter bunny, who sat in a throne.

Isabella Anzalone, 8, sat with her siblings, Remi Livingston, 8, and Emmett Livingston, 5, sifting through their six bags of eggs for the best treats.

“I was just running through getting everything I could,” Isabella said after the mad dash.

Her mother, Andrea Anzalone, said she and her husband, Joshua Livingston, are regulars at Floyd Lamb and have been attending the egg hunts for years.

“It’s such a nice open park, so beautiful and spacious.” she said. “The Parks and (Recreation Department) puts on a lot of special events. It’s a beautiful park, and the kids get really entertained.”

The Easter egg hunt at Floyd Lamb was coordinated by Ward 6 Councilwoman Michele Fiore, but Saturday she said she was serving as “nonna” — grandmother in Italian — to her 3-year-old grandson, walking the boy around as he gathered eggs.

Ward 4 hosted an “Easter Eggstravaganza” Friday at Durango Hills Community Center, and Saturday morning, children 7 to 12 could swim for eggs at Pavilion Center Pool in Summerlin or hunt for eggs at Paradise Recreation Center.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.