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Easter Egg Hunt Mania

By: Samuel Jones

For the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, no community outreach program is quite as extravagant as their annual Easter Egg Hunt. The hunt is held at the R-Ranch in the Mountains of Dahlonega, Georgia, drawing in hundreds of visitors each year, all eager to get their share of the 60,000 plastic eggs distributed around the property. Despite COVID-19 concerns, which forced the event to be canceled last year, Sheriff Stacy M. Jarrard, and his administrative assistant, Rhonda Sheppard, are determined to put the event on in a safe manner for those who wish to attend on April 3rd.

The Easter Egg Hunt was first held in a local church as a small, community-focused event, with only around 500 plastic eggs hidden for the attendants. The number of eggs skyrocketed in recent years after an egg drive was held in preparation for 2017’s iteration of the hunt. The drive yielded around 60,000 eggs for the volunteers and workers of the sheriff’s office to hide, which has turned the hunt into a full-blown county-wide affair.

A production of this magnitude requires a lot of support, which Sheppard says the office receives from “the different sororities and fraternities [of the University of North Georgia] and the Citizens Advisory Service Board, who are instrumental in helping us with all of our events.”

A field of eggs at the R-Ranch during the 2019 Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office Easter Egg Hunt (photo courtesy of the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office)

COVID-19 was a concern last year, forcing the event into cancellation for the first time since its introduction. However, this year there will be protocols to ensure that any health risks are low. The supply of eggs are safely recycled each year by the office, which encourages participants to empty their eggs at the R-Ranch and deposit them into large bins set up to reduce the amount of plastic waste that goes into the environment. The eggs are sanitized upon their return to the station and then stored away for future use.

Masks are recommended for those who choose to come, and the event will only be an hour as opposed to two this year to limit interaction between those who attend. There are usually several other attractions, such as bouncy houses, found at the event, but many of them will be absent this year to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19.

According to Jarrard, the motivation behind holding the Easter egg hunt is clear. Jarrard said that “it is always good for law enforcement to work with the community whenever possible and make sure that they trust us to call on us at their time of need.” He stresses that community involvement is critical in the development of programs such as the Easter Egg Hunt, and he hopes that it brings some joy after what has been a long two years since the last hunt.

The event will take place on April 3rd and is free o the public. There are no age limits in place, so anyone can come and either take part in the event or volunteer to help spread and find the eggs, a task that Sheppard says is highly encouraged for college students in or around the Dahlonega campus. “Students can participate or they can help the [children] find the eggs. Everyone is welcome,” said Sheppard.

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Easter Egg Hunt Mania