CHEYENNE – On the Saturday before Easter last year, Holliday Park was quiet. Kids weren’t letting out cries of joy upon seeing the Easter Bunny; they weren’t laughing as they raced to get their little hands on as much candy as possible.

COVID-19 had taken that away.

But this year, Cheyenne Recreation and Events employees in the Latchkey program – Jade Herstein and Kathy Nolan – worked hard to give Laramie County kiddos a chance to just be a kid again, after dealing with so much over this last year in the pandemic.

And this year at Holliday Park, the kids came out with a spirit of celebration.

“We really kind of relish in the thought that we’re bringing these families together, and we’re giving them a morning or even 45 minutes of pure joy on their faces,” Nolan said.

The Latchkey after-school program and summer rec camp wasn’t always responsible for the city’s annual egg hunt, but Herstein, who is the Latchkey director, felt confident that the activity would align with what they do every day. So when the opportunity arose, they took it.

Now, for the last half decade or so, Herstein and Nolan have run the egg hunt and created an inclusive place where all kids have a chance to collect their Easter goodies. In their day-to-day operations, Herstein said the Latchkey staff work to make sure every child is included, and that was something they wanted to bring to egg hunt, as well.

“We’re really recreation focused, and we really focus on making sure that everyone feels involved and welcome. We just want to let them be a kid and not let the worries of the world drag them down,” Herstein said.

Each age group was split into sections to give the kids a fair shot, and even the more timid kids got to fill their baskets with eggs and candy. The highlight of the day, per usual, however, was clearly the Easter Bunny.

Every year, a Latchkey staffer will put on the beloved bunny costume to woo the kids, and every year, the kids go wild. One of Nolan’s favorite parts of running the egg hunt is seeing how excited the children are – to get their hands on as much candy as possible and to share their egg hunt hauls with the Easter Bunny.

“It just seems like there’s a buzz when you have an event like this, where kids are just overly excited. I love those aspects – the kids are just twitching, and they can’t wait for the word go, looking around and checking out their competition,” Herstein said. “I also really love how they run up to the bunny after the hunt. There’s always those little ones that want to show the bunny what they got.”

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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