Easter party has kids hopping
Rosy-cheeked and catching her breath, 9-year-old Alyssa Anderson dropped to a knee and set down the bucket of plastic eggs. She reached inside and began popping off the lids, one-by-one, revealing a pile of treats.
Hershey Kisses. Snickers. Reece’s Pieces. Even a mini yo-yo.
Similar scenes played out across the playground and ballfields at Mountain View Elementary School in March as more than 200 people attended the tribe’s annual Easter celebration, enjoying lunch, giveaways and, of course, a hunt for candy-filled eggs.
Alyssa, who attended with her grandmother Valerie Anderson and 5-year-old sister Layla, had a simple yet crafty egg-finding strategy amid the swarm of children.
“Going to the side a bunch,” the third-grader said. “They left a lot on the sides.”
After the hunt for eggs, the Anderson family stood with Leslie Hemphill and Hemphill’s two children – 7-year-old JadeRenee and 9-year-old James – as the youngsters dug through their findings.
When asked what he liked most about the event, James had a simple response.
“Getting the eggs,” he said. “It’s really fun.”
Both the Anderson and Hemphill families have attended the celebration every year in recent memory, making it part of their Easter routine.
The Andersons planned on having another egg hunt later in the day as part of a family celebration.
The Hemphill children look forward to the tribe’s party every year.
“The kids are always excited to come,” Leslie Hemphill said.
Another regular participant, tribal Elder Phyllis Bookey, brought her 6-year-old great granddaughter Savannah.
Bookey was babysitting for the afternoon and thought Savannah would enjoy the festivities.
“I think this is wonderful for all our little youth,” Bookey said. “It’s so much fun for them, and they are always so excited.”
For other families, meanwhile, it was a new experience.
Amber Herrmann attended for the first time, bringing her fiancé and two young sons.
Herrmann said the family wanted to try something different and had been searching for kid-friendly activities to pass the day.
“We just wanted to get out and do something fun for the kids,” Herrmann said.
Before the hunt for eggs, tribal staff served a hot dog lunch and held a drawing for prizes.
The prizes included Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies and new bicycles and scooters donated by Salamatof Native Association.
Kaarlo Wik, Chairman of the Board at Salamatof, said it is fun to see the children’s reactions during the prize drawings.
“It’s really exciting to see the kids anticipating winning and actually winning. You can see in their faces how excited they are,” Wik said. “It’s just been a real good partnership between Salamatof and the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.”
Other sponsors included Peterkin Distributors, IGA/Country Foods, Coca-Cola of the Kenai Peninsula and L&J Enterprises and Excavating. Staff members from the tribe’s Human Services Division helped host the event.