NUTLEY, NJ - Hunting eggs is an established tradition in Nutley. The popular custom takes place in both evening searching with flashlights and morning hunting by the sunlight. The Nutley Civic Celebrations Committee has been running their event at Memorial Park 1, also known as the “Mud Hole” since 1935.

Nutley Township’s Great Flashlight Egg Hunt sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department is only 11 years young.  The event was first held at the Mud Hole, as well, and then moved to Reinheimer Park around 2008.

The evening hunt was the brainchild of the Parks and Recreation Department “It was the staffs’ idea; let’s do something different [than the Civic Celebrations’]. It’s been a great event ever since,” said Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci. “This is the type of thing we look to do to keep the community involved. The children love it,” he added.

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Over 1,500 candy-filled eggs were scattered in Reinheimer Park Thursday night, including the golden one that a lucky child turned in to win a giant basket of toys and candy. About 500 Nutley children in grades 2 through 6 showed up to search an area of the park for that special egg.

A different person in his department creates the basket of toys and candy for the lucky winner each year. This time Gabriele Costa put the giant basket together.

Rich Lewis and Anthony Mielnicki of the department kept the the children behind the rope until the sun set and the lit flashlights were visible. Lewis shouted “stay behind the ropes” by megaphone. The children chanted “We want eggs, we want eggs.

Tucci took over the megaphone announcing the rules of the hunt. At the sound of go the children charged up the hill in search of “gold,” egg that is. Within a few minutes Tucci shouted “and we have a winner,” through the megaphone. 

Tyler Hsaio, 9, a Lincoln School fourth grader was the lucky winner. Hsaio said his strategy was to find something shiny. “I had to find something shiny and I looked and found it under the tree up on the hill,” said Hsaio as he pointed behind him.

Tucci presented the basket that was almost bigger than the winner. Hsaio claimed he will share his winnings before his father assisted him carrying the giant prize away.

Meanwhile, Nutley Civic Celebration’s held their 82nd annual Easter Egg Hunt in conjunction with the Nutley FMBA Local 44 Saturday morning, April 15. The event was split in half 6-8 year olds at 9 a.m. at the Mud Hole and across the street the children hunted in three ages groups - 5 year olds at 9 a.m., 4 year olds at 9:15 a.m. and 3 year olds at 9:30 a.m.

All children were able to meet the Easter bunnies (Lucy Collini and Cheryl DiAntonio).DiAntonio has dressed in her bunny costume for 25 years now and Collini has joined her for about 15 years. “I love it, I love being this [the Easter Bunny],” said Collini. DiAntonio agreed with her.

The eggs at the event are mostly recycled from the previous years; however the committee does purchase new eggs to add every year. “Some children take them and we allow that,” said DiAntonio. According to DiAntonio a unit consisting of 144 eggs only costs about $8.

The committee also purchases toys for all the age groups making sure every child hunting eggs gets something. Some of the prizes this year were pinwheels, bendables, gliders, bunny necklaces and toys that were slimy. Gloria DiAntonio, mother-in-law of Cheryl, has been on the committee running the event for over 25 years handing out prizes to the children. “We never run out of gifts,” she said.

Will Cassidy and Gabe Miller of the Nutley Fire Department tossed out the plastic eggs for the smaller children. According to Firefighter Anthony Rizzo about 500 children participated in the egg hunt.

The fire engine horn blew and the children raced to collect as many eggs as they could get. Parents followed snapping photos and supervising their little ones.

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