1,500 attend governor’s Easter egg hunt

Annabelle and Elise Nee romp over the grounds of Richmond's Capitol Square Wednesday at the first "Governor's Easter Egg Hunt." (Photo by Alex Wiggins of Capital News Service)
The lawn around the state Capitol was hopping with about 1,500 egg-collecting children Wednesday as Gov. Bob McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell held Virginia’s first “Governor’s Easter Egg Hunt.”

Just as the U.S. president traditionally opens the White House grounds for an Easter egg roll, the McDonnells invited children to participate in their free event at Capitol Square.

The McDonnells formally greeted their guests after exiting the Executive Mansion accompanied by the Easter Bunny, Smokey Bear, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rodney the Ram, the Richmond Flying Squirrels mascot Nutsy and several other costumed characters.

“I want to especially thank the first lady and her staff – all of the people from the First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort – for their great planning,” Gov. McDonnell said.

He singled out “Sarah Scarbrough, the mansion director, who’s been putting Easter eggs together for about three months, I think.”

After the event, Scarbrough called the egg hunt a success. “We’d love to see it become another Virginia tradition,” she said.

Eight thousand plastic eggs had been placed all over the lawn of Capitol Square, designated for children of different ages – with some eggs apparently containing more impressive treasures than others.

The eggs for the event had been donated by the Science Museum of Virginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Bow-Tie Cinemas and other organizations, according to a press release issued by Mrs. McDonnell.

Students from The Steward School, a college preparatory school in Henrico County, painted the faces of egg-hunters for free. Music and mild weather accompanied the late-afternoon and early-evening festivities as the governor and the first lady mingled with a long line of guests and friends. They included VCU President Michael Rao, his wife Monica and their two children.

Some attendees were displeased, however, with the first-time jamboree.

“It was unorganized,” said Delethia Agyeibi, a mother of two. “When the governor said, ‘Go!’ or whoever said, ‘Go!’ everybody went – and they didn’t acknowledge the times and the ages for each set area.”

Agyeibi’s children expressed disappointment at not having won any special “prize eggs.” But they smiled at the eggs they did manage to gather.

As part of the first lady’s Serving Our Service Member Families effort, the McDonnells encouraged guests to bring “baby shower gifts for expectant military moms.” Mansion staff and volunteers set up boxes for these items around the Capitol grounds, and most of them were full by the end of the two-hour-long event.

Children were able to write thank-you cards to members of the military at a booth provided by the United Service Organizations, as well as create bracelets with supplies provided by the Science Museum of Virginia.

“We all agree that trying to come together and do what’s best for Virginia, trying to solve problems, is the thing that makes Virginia really a great state,” Gov. McDonnell said.

“Enjoy this time with your family. Have a celebration for the great blessing that God has given us as Virginians and Americans and do the things that you want to do to have fun.”

Several state agencies helped with the event. They included the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Tourism Corp. and the Virginia Egg Council.
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A two-hour guided walk through of portions of Malvern Hill July 1 will kick off the Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site's “History at Sunset” series of evening guided walks and programs highlighting new park lands and lesser-known stories. The series will continue at four other local Civil War sites and Evergreen Cemetery at 7 p.m. each Saturday in July. The Malvern Hill event will allow visitors to experience one of the Civil War’s best-preserved battlefields during a two-hour walk. Park Ranger Bert Dunkerly will offer a detailed analysis of the command and decision-making strategies of Generals McClellan and Lee; visitors are invited to weigh in. Attendees should meet at the Malvern Hill battlefield, 9175 Willis Church Road. Full text

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