A small army of excited youngsters swarmed Miller’s Merry Manor in Syracuse Saturday, April 1, for the facility’s annual Easter egg hunt.
At 10 a.m. the horde was released by age groups into three wings of the residence, the courtyard and the surrounding grounds to find the more than 2,000 plastic eggs the residents had spent weeks preparing.
Inside each pastel colored egg was a piece of candy. Six golden eggs, one from each age group, granted their finders the main prize, a large basket filled with Easter goodies.
The eggs were hidden in various degrees of concealment, depending on the age group, but all the eggs were found in about 10 minutes.
The event was open to the public, with kids from age 1 through 12 participating in the hunt. Age groups were, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.
Easter basket winners were T. J. Dimmick, 2, Syracuse; Ian Tayagua, 4, Syracuse; Legend Baldridge, 6, North Webster; Karlee Clevenger, 8, North Webster; Austin Parks, 10, Middlebury; and Gavyn Alexander, 12, Pierceton.
The Easter bunny waited in the dining room for the returning throng, and many of the children had their photos taken with her. Inside the bunny costume was Kalyssa Kaase, the 15-year-old daughter of Kelly Kaase, administrator for Miller’s Merry Manor. Kalyssa is a freshman at Wawasee High School.
“My favorite thing was trying to find the golden egg,” said Zoey Eaton, 6. “We’re going to see all our family for Easter.”
Zoey has been participating in the annual event “since she was first born,” said her mother, Kimberly Eaton of Syracuse.
“I had fun,” said James Guerrero, 4, who collected “about 15 to 20” eggs, according to his mother, Linda Torres.
James’ favorite Easter food is “candy,” but Linda admitted “sometimes mom and dad and grandpa raid the candy basket.”
Lillian Wallace, activities director for Miller’s Merry Manor, estimated this year’s event to be a “good year.”
“We typically average between 200 and 300 kids,” she said. “This year it was closer to 300.”
The residents filled the eggs, “some in physical therapy and during a couple activity days,” said Wallace. “They are very much a part of the hunt. Easter is one of those holidays they remember celebrating with their children. The residents thoroughly enjoy being with the little ones.”
The Easter egg hunt, she said, is a way for the residents to “interact with people from the outside and relive the childhood memories. It is therapy for the heart.”
Saturday, that therapy was dispensed by the tiny angels of mercy giving a smile and a sometimes shy, sometimes chipper “hello” to wheelchair-bound residents. In those brief moments, the old folks were young again.
Wallace, in her fourth year as activities director, called Saturday’s event “a safe Easter egg hunt.”
“It’s an outreach to the community,” she said.
“A lot of facilities are big on community activities, so why not the nursing facilities as well?”
She urged members of the public to visit Miller’s Merry Manor. “We have a good volunteer program,” said Wallace, who has worked at the facility for 23 years.
“The doors are always open to people willing to come in and give of their time, even just for visiting. The residents can always use that extra hello and get to know somebody new.”
For more information, call Wallace at (574) 457-4401 or visit www.millersmerrymanor.com.
Volunteer applications can be filled out at the facility, 500 E. Pickwick Drive, Syracuse. “We do take younger volunteers as well,” said Wallace.