A bunny of an egg hunt

Hundreds of children and parents swarmed Saturday to Verdugo Park where an Easter-themed carnival helped usher in the spring season.

The promise of Easter egg hunts, carnival activities and a chance to meet the life-sized Easter bunny kept nearly permanent smiles on children's faces.

Glendale resident Isabel Villa, 3, grinned when she caught her first glimpse of the Easter bunny, which embraced her with a furry hug.

It came as somewhat of a surprise to Robin Villa, Isabel's father, since his daughter hasn't always been so fond of the traditional Easter character.

“For the previous years, she was OK with Santa Claus, but never with the Easter bunny,” Villa said. “She used to be scared, but the third time's a charm I guess.”

As Isabel waited in line to pose with the Easter bunny, again, a loud-speaker announcement that the traditional Easter egg hunt was about to start prompted her and her dad to abandon the queue and join a horde of other young egg hunters as they galloped toward the event

Waiting behind a purple ribbon — fastened to trees bordering a swath of grass bearing some 400 plastic eggs — 2-year-old Dylan Ipina staked out the hunting ground.

“You're ready to rock and roll, huh?” asked Dylan's father, Carlos Ipina.

Dylan looked up at his dad and flashed a confident smile.

“I know you are,” Ipina said.

Ipina said Saturday's event marked Dylan's introduction to Easter activities.

“It seems like a lot of fun, especially for him,” he said.

But parents got into the fun too: For the first of three egg hunts — which were more like mad dashes to collect eggs sitting in plain site — of the day, there were as many parents as children.

Most helped guide their children to eggs, but some snatched up the eggs — which came with hidden prizes inside — themselves.

In an attempt to redirect the focus to the children, event coordinator John Maghaguian, community services director for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, told parents before the second egg hunt to stay behind the purple ribbon.

The event marked the 10th annual city-sponsored Easter Eggstravaganza, Maghaguian said.

“It's really a great sign of spring,” he said, commenting both on the event itself and the Saturday sunshine that came despite forecasts of rain and thunderstorms. “It's fun stuff. That's the bottom line.”

?RYAN VAILLANCOURT covers business, politics and the foothills. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at ryan.vaillancourt@latimes.com.

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