DUNEDIN — Get ready for a day of Easter-related family fun in Dunedin.
On Saturday, carnival games and music will launch a new annual event that will have all eyes gazing skyward above Dunedin Highlander Park. Two helicopters will drop 10,000 plastic goodie-filled eggs at the city's first Helicopter Egg Drop.
"We wanted something different and more entertaining than the traditional egg hunt," said Vince Gizzi, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, who came up with the idea for the event. "With a helicopter drop, the excitement is not just for the kids, but parents, too. It's different, special and it's a pretty sight."
The entire free event promises to be family-oriented, starting with balloon artists, carnival games, crafts, a duck pond, egg toss, egg relays and two bounce houses. That all happens from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Plus, music played by a DJ will add a festive feel to the day.
Then, around 1:15 p.m., the 10,000 colorful plastic eggs will be dropped from the helicopters. For safety reasons, the egg drop area will be cordoned off until all the eggs have landed on terra firma. Then children will enter through multiple openings to collect the eggs.
There will be two distinct areas for children to gather eggs. One is for children ages 4 and younger, and those children must be accompanied by a parent. The other space is for children ages 5 and up. The egg drop is intended for elementary school-age children.
"We've put a lot of time and work into the logistics of this to be sure it's a safe and fun event for the children," said Angel Trueblood, a Dunedin recreation leader. "We had the eggs prefilled with candy and toys and will have two helicopters dropping all the eggs at one time."
The Easter Bunny will be on hand to pose with children, but parents need to bring their own cameras to take a picture. Also, while bags will be available for collecting eggs, parents may want children to bring a bag or basket from home.
There will be no admission charge for the festivities, but parking will cost $5, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
According to Trueblood, food vendors will sell chicken, pizza, hot dogs, cupcakes and cold drinks.
Gizzi knows what to expect on Saturday. He has seen the excitement a helicopter egg drop creates for both children and their parents. He knows how much fun this less-traditional approach to gathering eggs can be.
"Anticipation builds when everyone hears the helicopter circling around the park," said Gizzi. "Parents will point up. It's the sights and sounds that make this event unique. And there will be smiles on the faces of children of all ages when they see eggs come flying out of the helicopter."