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Hunt seeks to avoid chaos

The flashlight Easter Egg Hunt is on again, despite a chaotic scene last year that left some youngsters eggless and frantic parents searching for their children in the dark.

The Largo Recreation & Parks Department will host the egg hunt by flashlight on Thursday, but organizers say things will be different this time.

The key, they say, is keeping the event small and controlled.

"We certainly learned a lot of lessons last year and have made the necessary changes," said Doug Matthews, department spokesman.

The biggest change is the switch in location from Largo Central Park to the Highland Recreation Complex on Highland Avenue, just north of East Bay Drive.

Because it was at the popular Central Park last year, organizers think people expected the hunt to be a bigger event than intended. Largo Recreation had planned for about 3,000 children and expected the majority to be local. But about 8,000 children and their parents showed up from all over the Tampa Bay area.

"We had people coming from Tampa," Matthews said.

The smaller and less popular Highland multipurpose field is expected to localize the event, Matthews said.

"We learned a flashlight egg hunt isn't something you want to do with 5,000 kids," he said.

This year's event will be divided into three age groups, and no more than 300 children per group will be admitted, said Sherry Chandler, program coordinator.

Also cutting down on potential chaos, the Highland field has better lighting than Central Park. Although the flashlight theme will still apply, people will be able to see the eggs on the field in the dim lighting, Chandler said.

And unlike Central Park, the Highland field is fenced. Last year, organizers say, eager children and adults tromped the mesh fencing put up to maintain order. That won't happen this year, Chandler said.

"We're looking just to keep it a traditional, simple egg hunt," she said.

Each child will get a bag of prizes, Chandler said, and some "magic" eggs will have prizes inside.

If you go

EggMania Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt at the Highland Recreation Complex, 400 N Highland Ave., Largo. Ages 3 to 5 from 6 to 7 p.m. Ages 6 to 8 from 7 to 7:30 p.m. Ages 9 to 12 from 7:30 to 8 p.m. Pictures with Peter Cottontail from 6 to 7 p.m. Admission is $2 per child with a Largo recreation card, $3 for those without a card. Call the Largo Recreation & Parks Department at 587-6723 for information.

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