FORT STEWART, HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - More than 5,000 children and their parents gathered on four soccer fields behind Fort Stewart's School Age Services building and outside Hunter Army Airfield's Child Development Center for the annual Easter Egg Hunt, April 3. The event was sponsored by Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and is one of many events planned during April which is designated as the Month of the Military Child.

According to Gary Williams, Stewart's Youth Center Director, about 4,000 children took part in Stewart's egg hunt, not counting nearly 2,000 moms and dads, who helped the younger ones keep up with eggs they collected. Williams was responsible for planning and organizing the egg hunt for Stewart. Debra Grant, School Age and Youth Services' acting director planned and organized the egg hunt for Hunter.

"We had a huge turn out today," said Millard Jones, Hunter's director of DFMWR. "I estimate that about 1,500 children are here; it's our largest Easter Egg Hunt ever."

Jones gave the opening remarks at Hunter's egg hunt. Stewart's egg hunt kicked off with comments by Linda Heifferon, Stewart-Hunter DFMWR director, followed by an invocation by Chap. (Maj.) Valiant Lyte, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team's rear detachment chaplain. Chaplain Lyte encouraged everyone to have a good time but not to forget the real meaning behind the holiday celebration.

Chaplain Lyte's invocation was followed with remarks by Col. Kevin Milton, Stewart-Hunter garrison commander. The children were then given the official release to gather the eggs.
Williams said more than 55,000 eggs were placed on the four soccer fields for Stewart's egg hunt.
Grant said more than 10,000 eggs were distributed for Hunter's egg hunt. Each of the eggs was stuffed with candy or small toys; some eggs were stuffed with information about special Easter basket prizes that could be picked up later.

Williams said the egg hunts were broken down into four age groups: 0-2, 3 & 4, 5-7, and 8-10. On the sound of "go," little boys and girls hit the fields, collecting colorful eggs as fast as they could go. It was easy to see, however, that boys collected their eggs with quantity in mind. They raced back and forth, grabbing as many eggs as possible. Girls tended to be more selective, taking the time to consider whether a particular egg was the right color, or when shaken, if it sounded as though it contained anything worth having.

Within a few short minutes after the children were released to hunt for eggs, there were no more eggs to be found. Cheyene Marie Love, 2, daughter of Randee and Spc. Andrew Love, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, did not have a large collection of eggs in her pink bucket, but it didn't seem to bother her. Her mother said she was looking for quality, not quantity.

"She's having fun," her mom explained. "She only picks up the pretty ones."

After all the eggs were gathered, food, games and inflatables were available for the children to enjoy. The Easter Bunny was everywhere for picture posing with those children who were not afraid of him. Adriana Hudson, 2, daughter of Family Member Elizabeth Hudson, was one of several children who were less than eager to meet the Easter Bunny.

While many children participated in events like the Bunny Hop or Easter Egg Relay, others waited in long lines to get on the inflatable bounce or slide. Still others, like, Mackenzie Davis, daughter of Megan and Sgt. Clinton Davis, 2nd HBCT, got their faces painted or had tattoos painted on their hands or arms.

"This was a great experience," said Jean Horeck, wife of a Hunter contractor who brought her three children for the first time to the Hunter event. "I'm surprised at the number of kids who are here. I'm impressed at how well organized and safe it is, especially since I have a special needs child."