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Hidden treasures

That's the double quest in Saturday's free Easter Egg Hunt at the Lutz Nature Park, a scenic new attraction that few Lutz residents have ever seen.

"The purpose of it is to get people out to see how beautiful the park looks," said Auralee Buckingham, chairwoman of the event and a key member of the civic group that created the park.

Six years in the making, the Lutz Nature Park has a pond, four pavilions, two gazebos, an engraved boardwalk and many trees and flowers. But the park is tucked in the back of Lutz's Oscar Cooler Youth Sports Complex, behind the tennis courts. It cannot be seen from any road, and is discernable from only the closest parking lots.

"Even people who live across the street don't know it's there," Buckingham said.

That has created something of a drag on the group's most grass-roots fundraising method: the sale of engraved boards on the boardwalk for $25 apiece. The current boardwalk, flanking the eastern side of the pond, is full of names, but the committee wants to extend it.

"We're disappointed that we haven't gotten more boards," Buckingham said. "I think when people see the park and all the other names, they'll decide they want theirs in there."

So Buckingham, grandmother of five, has organized a children's party for ages toddler to 12.

Besides the Easter Egg Hunt, timed for around 11 a.m., the party will feature egg-rolling contests and games. Bubbles will be unleashed into the breeze. Children will be able to pose for photos with the Easter Bunny. They'll be ushered into pavilions for egg-coloring contests.

"They'll color real hard-boiled eggs," she said. "They'll get to take all this home."

Buckingham urged parents to bring cameras and their children's Easter baskets. Forty Easter lollipops will be given away as prizes.

"I'll give those away, and I'll give candy away, and when they're gone, they're gone," she said.

_ Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or