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Costa Mesa’s Easter celebration morphs into citywide scavenger hunt in ‘Park Hop Eggstravaganza’

Realtor Ryan Knapp, and Torelli Realty founder Valeri Torelli, from left, at a Costa Mesa park.
Realtor Ryan Knapp, and Torelli Realty founder Valeri Torelli, from left, scan the QR code for an Easter egg hidden at an undisclosed Costa Mesa park, part of a new Park Hop Eggstravaganza event.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

For local Realtor Valerie Torelli, celebrating Easter in Costa Mesa is usually cause for mass egg-citement.

That’s because, since she opened Torelli Realty in the city’s Mesa Verde neighborhood in 1986, the business has sponsored a number of community events, most notably Costa Mesa’s annual “Torelli Realty Egg-Citement Easter” celebration.

The springtime spectacle typically draws upward of 500 people to Tanager Park with a dizzying array of activities, from train rides to bounce houses to egg hunts for kids big and little that register on the scale of chaos somewhere between “mad dash” and “absolute free-for-all.”

“Bands would play, schools would participate. We’d have the Easter bunny,” Torelli recalled in an interview. “It started out small — but then we just took over the whole park.”

Last year, however, the still-burgeoning coronavirus pandemic put the kibosh on plans for a repeat of the beloved in-town tradition and plans were put on hold while everyone hunkered down.

With coronavirus restrictions prohibiting large gatherings still firmly in place one full year later, city staff are teaming up with Torelli on a new kind of celebration. Welcome to the Park Hop Eggstravaganza.

From now until March 26, local egg hunters are invited to participate in a citywide scavenger hunt to find six larger-than-life Easter eggs installed at select city parks in Costa Mesa.

Through March 26, locals can participate in a Park Hop Eggstravaganza to find 6 eggs hidden at Costa Mesa parks for prizes.
Through March 26, local residents can participate in a Park Hop Eggstravaganza to find six eggs hidden at Costa Mesa parks for a prize.
(Courtesy of the city of Costa Mesa)

Their locations are being kept under wraps, according to Parks & Services Director Jason Minter, who worked with city staff to not only craft the ovate structures but equipped them with QR codes that, when scanned, will pull up fun facts about the parks they’re in.

Costa Mesa operates 33 parks. While Minter remained mum about specific locations, he provided one valuable hint for prize seekers.

“We tried to find locations that were a little bit bigger, so families don’t just come for the egg and then leave,” he said. “This way they can stay and hang out together.”

People can follow instructions in the QR code to pose for selfie photos that they can upload to a contest page on the city’s website at costamesaca.gov/parkhop. The first 25 people to find and submit photos of all six eggs will receive a fun, family-themed prize from Torelli Realty.

Torelli is hopeful this year’s event will let families celebrate together in a safe manner.

“The parks are being used now more than ever,” she said. “It’s just about people getting out there with their kids and having fun.”

Minter said while this year’s celebration may not have all the bells and whistles of previous egg hunts, it offers a fun reason for families to get out and explore local nature.

“People don’t always know all the parks in Costa Mesa, so any opportunity we have to get people out into the parks, we’ll take it,” he said.

The contest runs through March 26. All entrants will be required to upload a picture for every egg found. For more information, email cmrecinfo@costamesaca.gov.

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