BONITA SPRINGS — Children scampered across the field at First Baptist Church of Bonita Springs scooping up 28,000 candy-filled colorful plastic eggs in a flash.
Even in their haste, there was a spirit of giving among the children as much as there was among the sponsors and hosts.
Aubrey Porter, 11, decided to leave her Easter egg basket aside and assist little sister Caroline, 2, with the egg hunt, leading her to each activity that drew the youngest sibling’s eyes.
Caroline just barely reached the pinwheel making table, but big sister Aubrey was right behind her, arms over Caroline’s shoulders, assisting with the proper paper folds as Lindeman’s Heating and Cooling owner Russ Lindeman applied purple stick glue to the girl’s project.
It was an ideal craft for the sunny breezy day as Caroline’s pinwheel immediately spun in the wind.
Adults were having just as much fun with music and massage being among their favorites, many of them said.
“It’s great to watch all the different kids getting together. The music is wonderful. It’s a cool band (Brylcream) to have around kids on this beautiful day,” said Allison Lapke, a Bonita Springs resident who looked strikingly similar to the pop star P!nk.
Lapke strolled around the event, hosted annually by Royal Scoop Ice cream, with stepdaughter Jaiden Weinacker, 5, and Weinacker’s father Brandon, along with grandmother Marie Weinacker.
Jaiden was dressed in a classic Easter-style spring dress as she sat on the Easter Bunny’s lap, posing for a photograph.
“I thought the Easter Bunny would be bigger—bigger and taller,” Jaiden said.
David Zimmerman, owner of the Royal Scoop in Bonita Springs, was grateful for the continued growth in community support with more volunteers, more eggs, more games, more bounce houses and other inflatables than ever before because of the generosity of hundreds of people, including several business owners from Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero.
“It’s awesome. This is one our better turnouts for sure. It’s like that when Easter falls in March,” said Zimmerman, who founded the event.
He was pleasantly surprised that United Methodist Church members stuffed a record 28,000 bright plastic eggs with candy and inedible treats such as silly bands.
“None of this would even be possible without all the volunteers,” Zimmerman said.
He looked over and saw one of them.
“People like Kathy (McGrath), here, who come out to volunteer and contribute to everything in the community,” Zimmerman said.
McGrath, a decades long resident of Bonita Springs, was equally grateful for Zimmerman’s ever-present contributions to the community. It was an event she enjoyed, McGrath said.
“They’re like vacuum cleaners. When he (Zimmerman) says, ‘ready, set, go,’ they’re off and it’s just like phew. When you see something such fun and such a success, you have to help,” McGrath said.
Aubrey Porter had that same calling to help—but for her it came when a child she didn’t know was crying after not winning a raffled opportunity to participate in the no-hands, no spoons-allowed ice cream eating contest.
Aubrey quickly gave up her ticket and seat at the table to the crying youngster.
Within seconds children were face down in their bowls of vanilla ice cream and the three fastest eaters were announced.
“You guys wear this so well,” said Zimmerman, as melted ice cream dripped down the faces, chins and necks of the contestants.
Kieran Lucas, 8, of Naples won first place. “I want to do 10 (eating contests). I love ice cream,” Lucas declared.
Jackson Donbar, 9, of Cincinnati, OH, won second place. The eating contest was a first for Donbar, who was visiting his grandparents in Estero for Easter.
Donbar said his hero is Adam Richman from the TV show “Man v. Food.”
Zimmerman’s and onlookers’ jaws dropped in surprise to see the particularly petite third place winner.
“I didn’t think she would win anything. I thought she was just in it for the ice cream,” said Aron Garcia, the smiling proud father of Lauren Garcia, 8, of Naples.
But Lauren was in it to win it and described herself as “a little” competitive.
Amid all the ice cream and candy eating stood a chiropractic scale that many were a little hesitant to step on as their bellies were full
“People kid around a bit about it. That’s what makes it fun,” said Ed O’Neill, owner of Bonita Chiropractic Center.
The scale weighs each side of the body to signify any structural or spinal differences.
Just a foot or so away, Jonah Frost, 38, of Naples, sat face down in a massage chair as Suzanne Ayres, of Bonita Chiropractic Center, gave Frost a complementary hand, neck and back massage.
“That was very, very good,” Frost said as he then scurried off to see how daughter Carley, 7, was doing with the ice cream eating.