While most local congregations will celebrate Easter with traditional services throughout Holy Week, several churches will offer events on April 7 to teach children about the holiday's meaning.
"He Lives" is the theme of the Mariner United Methodist Church children's Easter event, from 9 a.m. to noon.
"We offer this celebration because we want to share the good news of Easter and the celebration of spring with the children in our church and community," said Michelle Barrett, children's ministry leader.
Infants through fifth-graders and an accompanying adult are invited to participate in a number of activities on the church grounds.
There will be a traditional egg hunt for different age categories and prizes for everyone. Snacks, face painting, tattoos and a balloon artist will add to the fun, which is all free.
Games and crafts include chalk drawings, Hula Hoops, bubble blowing, decorating of Easter eggs, an obstacle course, egg/spoon relay races and a ring toss game.
Children will be invited to celebrate the new beginnings of spring by visiting "the empty tomb" and signing "the cross," representative of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.
"The community is invited and encouraged to attend," Barrett said.
Mariner Methodist is at 7079 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 596-0080.
Grace World Outreach Church will begin its Spring Community Extravaganza at 9 a.m. with an egg hunt for kids through age 12. Children should bring their own baskets for this free event.
There will be a carwash — for donations — and a huge yard sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hot dogs, hamburgers and snacks will be available for a nominal fee.
Donations will be accepted for pony rides, face painting and balloon characters.
"This event is to be a blessing to the community and to help raise funds for some of the youth and their upcoming ministry events," said Pastor Donnie Lewis. "As with all our events, there will be trained security personnel on the grounds to ensure the safety of all our kids."
The fun lasts until 2 p.m.
Grace World church is at 20366 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville. Call (352) 796-3685.
Northcliffe Baptist Church is planning a Really Big Easter Party for children through fifth grade and their parents from 10 a.m. to noon.
Dozens of volunteers will help the children find thousands of candy-filled eggs, as well as with face painting, two bounce houses, a petting zoo, snacks and games.
"Last year's party was tremendously successful, and we hope that this year we will reach even more families in our community," said Darlene Hurst, minister of children. "We want to make this day a great experience for everyone who attends."
Everything is free.
The church is at 10515 Northcliffe Blvd., Spring Hill. Call (352) 683-5882.
Community Bible Church, south of Brooksville, will have an Easter Eggstravaganza from 10 a.m. to noon.
There will be a puppet show called Looking for Easter, in which a young boy seeks the real meaning of the holiday.
The church will offer an egg hunt, face painting, carnival-type games and a hayride around the church grounds.
Children will have the opportunity to make crafts, such as decorating a Bible verse on card stock.
"The event hopes to show kids and their parents how Jesus, the son of God, was crucified and rose again on the third day so that we might have eternal life by trusting in him," said Kristin Wood, one of the event organizers. "Eggs represent new life in Jesus and, of course, have the hidden treasure of candy in each one."
Wood said the plastic eggs will be special because they were purchased from a company — Sunny Bunny — that employs disabled people.
"We hope for families to come out, enjoy themselves and take home reminders of what Easter is all about," Wood said. "We also hope this event will be an outreach to the community and provide them a fun activity for the Easter weekend as well as a way to introduce them to the church and its programs and what it offers for families in the community."
The free event is for children up to 11 years old and their parents, as well as those who would like to watch.
Community Bible Church is at 5041 Griffin Road. Call (352) 799-5462.
Spring Hill Baptist Church will host an Easter Eggstravaganza designed for toddlers through children age 12 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"We are 'eggcited' about our event," quipped Chris Wheeler, the church's youth and family pastor.
The free event will include finding 5,000 candy-filled eggs, gospel crafts, face painting, a 20-foot inflatable slide, a 400-square-foot bounce house, a 33-foot inflatable obstacle course and a puppet show that will present the message of a risen Savior.
There will be sack races, egg races and carnival-type games.
Coffee and doughnuts will be provided to parents.
"We expect this to be a good old-fashioned, fun-filled day for the entire family," Wheeler said. "We have a desire to reach out to the families in our community and provide them with something free that they can come and enjoy in a safe, comfortable environment."
Spring Hill Baptist is at 3140 Mariner Blvd. Call (352) 683-5685.