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York County Easter egg hunts 70 years ago.


I know Easter was several months ago, but I was just researching other subjects on the 1940s newspaper microfilms at York County Heritage Trust, and I came across many stories about Easter egg hunts of about 70 years ago. Some were large and some small, for preschoolers and/or older children, and they took place in just about every hamlet in the county. Many sound similar to those held today, and some were quite elaborate, with entertainment as well as prizes for finding “lucky eggs:

One thing that was interesting was the awarding of live rabbits as the top prizes at some of the hunts. My children participated in Easter egg hunts as children, but I would not have been thrilled if they brought home a live bunny as their prize. Just the thing the average preschooler needs.

Here’s an example from the April 11, 1946 York Gazette and Daily:

“Live Bunny to Be Given Finder of ‘Golden Egg’

Somewhere in the Kiwanis Lake area a ‘golden egg’ will be hidden Tuesday and the pre-school child who discovers it will be rewarded with the live bunny. Other children who find the prettiest, largest or smallest eggs will get plush bunnies and Easter baskets.

Over 4,000 eggs will be hidden in the area in the first egg hunt since the war sponsored by the York Recreation commission. Pre-school children will scamper about a roped off area near the lake guarded by City police and Boy and Girl Scouts.

Before the hunt gets underway members of the York Little Theatre will present a playlet, ‘T’was the Nightmare before Easter,’ designed to impress the children with the grave necessity of eating vegetables and drinking milk, etc.

Prizes are being contributed by the Lions club. Girl Scouts are coloring and hiding the eggs. Recreation Director Margaret Swartz will be in charge of the hunt.”

The largest hunt I came across was held March 25, 1948, about a month before Easter that year. Sponsored by the York Recreation Commission, it had been scheduled for Farquhar Park, but because of heavy rains, it was rescheduled indoors at the Teen Agers’ Club at the Alcazar ballroom, 205 South George St.

The Gazette and Daily reports that 1,500 pre-school children attended, which sounds like quite a crowd, especially considering most would have had their mother with them. Broadcaster Otis Morse, IV, served double duty as master of ceremonies and “Mr. Bunny.” Games were played, stories told and eight girls from the Dottie Roffe School of Dancing performed an Easter bunny dance. The photo of the eight dancers in bunny suits is too dark on the microfilm to reproduce, but their names were Barbara Yaw, Carol Ruby, Donna Verlardi, Barbara Williamson, Evelyn Lipsitz, Becky Neiman, Judith Kohr and Karyl Lee Stewart. If you know any of them, ask if they remember that performance.