Columbia expands egg hunt to include underserved community

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COLUMBIA — Mary Dewey has worked for Columbia Parks and Recreation for 21 years. She remembers that at least 15 of those years included extravagant egg hunts, mainly at Douglass Park. But this year, as recreation leader with youth programs, she wanted to start something new.

Dewey decided to host an egg hunt at Indian Hills Park as well as Douglass Park Saturday because she felt the children from the community surrounding Indian Hills Park were missing out.

"It’s hard for those kids to come into the central part of Columbia. They have to catch four buses or more to come in. So I thought, 'Let’s just take a program out to them,'" Dewey said.

She first thought of the idea after hosting an impromptu water Olympics event near Indian Hills Park last August. The Columbia Fire Department even joined in on the fun.

"The kids really got involved when the fire department helped out and got the hoses out and made a big sprinkler system," Dewey said. "Even the parents got into it."

She went on to say that the egg hunt is part of a larger effort to ensure Columbia residents know their community parks are safe and available. She also wants to help bring neighborhoods together.

With some help from MU student volunteers and several community organizations, Dewey was able to fill more than 3,000 eggs for the Douglass Park hunt and more than 2,000 eggs for the Indian Hills Park hunt. Both hunts were broken up into three age groups and included piñatas and face painting in addition to the main attraction.

Dewey said her favorite part every year is watching the children first run for the eggs because "it’s like a herd of elephants."