By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – The Easter Bunny greeted families on March 27 during a socially-distanced event, with timed entrances and holiday treats, at Market Center Park, southeast of Eureka and Trenton roads.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa said it was different than in past years, since they did not have an egg hunt, but it was still nice to have the Easter Bunny visit Southgate and pose for photos.
He said the Cultural Arts and Special Events Commission, and the city’s Recreation Department, provided the goodie bags and basket raffle.
“It is great to see us as a community be able to come out and have functions like this,” Kuspa said. “We are socially-distancing and requiring masks, but it’s still fun, and the smiles on the kids make it all worthwhile.”
He said the CASE Commission is planning an outdoor summer concert series on Thursday evenings, beginning in July, provided pandemic restrictions allow such gatherings.
Dominque Hanson and her husband, Bryan, brought their daughters Christina, 1, and Grace, 5, to see the Easter Bunny and pose for photos.
“The kids have been cooped up for so long, we decided we needed to take them out to do something,” she said. “It is safe, and everyone is distanced, and there’s a bunny, so it is definitely something cool for the kids to do.”
Bryan Hanson said it made him feel joyful to see smiles on his daughters’ faces.
“They have been cooped up for so long, that finally getting them outside, they seem a lot more energetic,” he said.
Darlene Sanchez of Southgate, who brought her sons Logan, 2, and Hunter, 6, agreed that it was great to be able to get her children out of the house for a while.
“They enjoy all the holiday stuff, so they think everything is cool,” she said. “I am happy that they can actually enjoy some of these activities, even if it is a little bit different than normal.”
Downtown Development Director Cassidy Tear said she was happy that they were able to hold an event for Southgate families which they could safely attend, to get into the holiday spirit.
She said during the upcoming outdoor concerts on Thursdays in July and August in Market Center Park, they will also have food trucks on site to add to the festive atmosphere.
“We are hoping that, with restrictions, it will still be nice and safe for everybody, and we will be able to have people come out here and enjoy the nice weather,” she said.
Ana Mitchell of the CASE Commission said it was wonderful to see the kids being outside and breathing fresh air, running around and having a good time.
“I am hoping that eventually, we will get back to normal, and everybody can come out and enjoy the events that Southgate offers, and be as happy as possible,” she said. “This is what it’s all about – seeing the kids enjoying themselves, and the parents enjoying seeing their kids enjoying themselves.”
CASE Commission Chair Robin Craig said was pleased to see families enjoying the event.
“It’s a beautiful day, and I love these events,” she said. “It’s great.”
Sophia Sanchez, 9, of Riverview, was eyeing the raffle baskets, mentally imagining her chances of winning one. She said her favorite Easter candies are jelly beans, especially the orange and cherry ones.
“I am really happy that we can finally celebrate Easter,” she said.
Her mother, Amy Sanchez, said she was pleased that they could come out and take photos with the Easter Bunny, and have a new and safe way to celebrate the holiday.
“It’s pretty fun,” she said. “Every little bit is moving in the right direction, so this is just one more step.”