Celebrating Easter in the park

It was hot and sunny on Saturday, March 22 in Memorial Park and the sounds of joyous laughter filled the air. Children were running everywhere and adults were trying to keep up. Suddenly the announcement came from emcee Jerry Healey: "It’s time for the Easter Bonnet Parade." To the music of "The Easter Parade" sung by Judy Garland, the pint-sized contestants lined up, surrounded by proud parents and interested bystanders. Led by Bev Widney of Dilbeck Realty, the children marched dutifully behind her as some precariously clutched hats and Easter baskets. Parents happily clicked cameras as the children proudly exhibited their holiday creations.

"My mom made my hat," said Maya Sahai, age 9. "I don’t know [but] I think I was in the parade last year, too." Her hat was a combination of cut birds of paradise flowers, plastic eggs and feathers. "I am in the third grade at Palmcrest [Elementary School]," she added proudly.

The children of Stacey and Ken Smersfelt entered the parade for the first time this year. Kate, 8, Will, 5, and Drew, 2, each made their own hats. "They did have a little help from me," mom Stacey, laughed. "Of course, a little more help for two of them." Little Drew looked very solemn in his hat and clutched his basket tightly.

When asked if she was excited, 4-year-old Camille Dolphin grinned and, with a little prompting from mom, said, "I wish that everybody has a happy Easter."

For 5-year-olds Athena Bamrick, Naomi Strong and Malika Sarma, this was their first year participating, too.

"I saw the announcement in the Valley Sun, so I thought we could make hats, too," said Julie Bamrick, Athena’s mother. All three girls giggled and nodded happily.

Another announcement rang out, declaring the beginning of a new egg hunt although there really weren’t eggs hidden. Instead, there were tokens strewn about the lawn for each child to gather, ensuring that each received a prize of candy.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino introduced himself saying, "I’m Anthony and I’m a politician. But I am just being a dad today." He sprinted off to join his daughter Bella who was in line to collect her prize.

Raffle tickets were sold for 95 bunnies and each one was awarded to a happy recipient. The day’s event was sponsored by Dilbeck Realtors of La Cañada, coordinated by Bev Widney.

One bunny named Zachary was won by 10-month old Zachary Wu who was squired around in his stroller by his mom, Heather.

As Jerry Healey announced, " All bunnies will go to the homes they are supposed to go to, even if the recipients have already left. We have their phone numbers to call them."

Perhaps the recipients were too busy checking the lawn for overlooked tokens.

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