A mad scramble for Easter eggs

A thin line of green tape and some self control was the only thing holding back the stampede.

The racers were primed, leaning as far forward as they could without falling or bracing their feet to get the best start.

Candy was on the line.

After a five-second countdown blared through the loudspeakers, the furious footrace started.

Parents chased behind as a blur of elbows, baskets and little feet that stormed a football filed-sized lawn at Mariners Church in Irvine the Saturday afternoon before Easter.

Within two minutes, not a single pastel plastic egg was left on the grass.

"In the very first second, I was thinking 'I'm going to run to the middle as fast as I can,' " said Jonathan Soto, explaining his strategy for scooping up the most prizes possible.

Jonathan ended up with 26 out of the 50,000 Easter eggs Mariners sprinkled across the lawn during two different hunts.

At 7:15 p.m., a second swarm of kids equipped with flashlights would search for their sweets.

The church calls them "Egg Scrambles" and opens them up to the surrounding community regardless of religion — as long as participants are fifth-grade age or younger.

In all, Mariners expected more than 20,000 people to attend the scrambles, 21 worship services and other events during the Easter weekend at its campuses in Irvine, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano

Jonathan's cousins came from Bakersfield to hustle for their prize-filled eggs in Irvine.

"We found poppers, gold coins, rings," said Jonathan's 9-year-old cousin Katrina Soto, showing off her haul of 22.

She held back though. Katrina wanted to be sure her cousins and the rest of the kids got their share.

"I just wanted to make sure there's lots for everybody," she said.

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