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Homer Easter hunt boasts 100,000 eggs

POSTED: April 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Robin Michener Nathan/The Times

Jacob Lias, 7, holds one of the bunnies that was given away as a prize at Georgia's Largest Easter Egg Hunt in Homer on Sunday.

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HOMER — What does it take to assemble Georgia’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt?

How about 100,000 individually wrapped candy eggs, 100 plastic prize eggs, volunteers and 10 acres of prime egg-hunting real estate.

Sunday marked the 49th year of Georgia’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt in Homer, and thousands of children lined the fences with their bags and baskets, ready to fill them with the same thing 8-year-old Gainesville resident Naomi Rosenberg said she was after — "lots and lots of eggs and that prize."

As they waited for the clock to strike 2 p.m. — hunting time in Homer — 9-year-old Queen Scott and her 7-year-old sister, Princess Scott, discussed exactly where they were going to search for the "good stuff," which included prizes of stuffed and real bunnies as well as Easter baskets brimming with toys.

"They’re under the trash cans and by trees," Queen Scott said.

Some children, like 6-year-old Maleah Redmond of Demorest brought along tools that would help them with their "digging to try to find something for a rabbit."

"I’m gonna win lots of prizes," Redmond said, spade in hand.

The Homer egg hunt, dubbed Georgia’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt, started in 1959 when O. S. Garrison invited his family and friends over for an Easter Sunday egg hunt.

Garrison’s family has carried on the tradition, and his grandson, Mack Garrison, currently coordinates the annual event.

The egg hunt is a community effort, Mack Garrison said. Sonny’s restaurant donated some of the prize eggs full of coupons for free barbecue dinners, Subway donated a sub platter, McDonald’s and Wendy’s donated cups and plates.

About 100 volunteers in orange shirts helped hide eggs, line the fence to the pasture, make sure no eggs were picked up before 2 p.m. and dole out prizes.

"It’s just a community effort, basically," Garrison said. "I just coordinate it."

In the 1980s, the Garrisons’ egg hunt was considered the "world’s largest" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

"We didn’t set it on purpose. It was just something that came to be," Garrison said.

The Homer hunt no longer holds that title, but it is the longest running free Easter egg hunt, Garrison said.

"It’s never been interrupted by weather or death or anything else," Garrison said. "It’s been put on for 49 straight years ... and we plan to keep it.

"And that record can’t be touched."

Of course, with the hunt in its 49th year, the "seasoned veterans" know where to look for the prize eggs.

"We got limited spaces we can hide them in, and we’ve used those spaces so many different times throughout the years ... the granddaddys and grandmammas is telling the grandkids ‘check so-and-so, because we used to find them there’ and so help me, they’ll find them there," Garrison said.

Five-year-old Amy Wioskowski found one of the coveted prize eggs near a tree and went home with a new pet bunny.

Garrison said he was happy to be with the hundreds of prize hunters like Wioskowski that gathered on his property this year. Last year, he had to stay in the house while he recovered from a liver transplant.

"The Lord didn’t want me to go nowhere, he wanted me to keep having Easter egg hunts," Garrison said. Garrison is back and hopes his sons will carry on the tradition that has been passed down through three generations of the Garrison family.

"We’re going to try and plan the 50th starting tomorrow," he said.



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