The hunt was on when the Longstreet Society opened the grounds of the Historic Piedmont Hotel to the public for the second annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday.
Festivities included face painting, an arts and craft table, and a visit from the Easter Bunny before the actual event at the Historic Piedmont Hotel and Museum in Gainesville, located just off the intersection of M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard and Maple Street in Gainesville.
“We just try to do what we feel like is good for the community and what Gen. Longstreet would have approved of us doing,” said Richard Pilcher, a volunteer for the event. Pilcher is a former president of the Longstreet Society, and is a current director.
“We had 40-something last year. We were hoping for 150 this year,” Pilcher said. “We just like the idea of having it as just a community event. We know Gen. Longstreet would have loved that.”
Adults and children of all ages entered the gates with their Easter baskets in hand ready to explore. The hotel was open for visitors with light refreshments offered on the wrap-around porch.
After seeing the event on Facebook, Lisa McCaughey of Gainesville brought her 3-year-old granddaughter, choosing the event out of curiosity about the hotel and the surrounding area.
“I wanted to see this building,” McCaughey said. “I figured this would be one of the safer places to take a child, where she won’t get trampled. Some of the other (egg hunts) don’t differentiate for children so she’s amongst 15-year-olds. Plus I wanted to see this part of town.”
The eggs were hidden around the perimeter of the building and had different levels of visibility for children to find. Small lollipop patches had sprouted for the true candy hunters.
“The setup is awesome, it’s beautiful,” McCaughey said. “Very nicely laid out, you can see all the eggs. I’ve already spotted them and we know where some of them are so she’ll at least get one.”
Other than the actual egg hunt, the most popular attraction of the day was the face painting tent featuring Cherry-O the clown. Run by Cherry Lobo of Gainesville, Cherry-O the Clown & Friends provided a fun and entraining attraction for the children and adults.
“The expression on the kids’ faces, the excitement and the surprise element when they see their face after it’s been painted,” are the best things about doing events like the egg hunt, according to Lobo.
“I love to ask the children, ‘What do they want to be today?’” Lobo said. She chooses not to offer pictures for them to pick out because asking them urges them to use their imagination.
“With them not having pictures to look at it really is a surprise to them when they see it.”
As for future events, Pilcher said “it’s going to look a lot different next year for the hunt. We’ve got a long-term site plan in the works.” The final version of the plans being released in a few weeks will offer more room for egg hunting next year.