WESTFIELD, NJ — An Easter egg hunt at Williams Nursery Saturday turned ugly, according to some parents, when an overwhelming number of families arrived at the free annual event.
Several people took to the nursery’s Facebook page to complain about poor behavior exhibited by parents at the hunt. Some said that small children were stepped on by adults in a rush to help their kids gather plastic eggs, and one wrote that a fight broke out between parents.
“My child was getting an egg while a parent punched another woman in the face and a man punched a guy in his face and it became a rumble ...” one person wrote.
“Parents were pushing their kids on to the lawn even before the countdown was finished,” another person posted. “I mean not the random excited toddler wandering. The parents actually pushing & dragging their child to get an egg.”
The excessive turnout apparently had a negative effect on Springfield Avenue’s traffic, as well.
“I sat in barely moving traffic for almost an hour trying to get to Route 22. I assumed there was a horrible accident and was shocked to discover it was all for an Easter egg hunt,” one person posted.
Another wrote that the traffic backup extended all the way to Kenilworth.
Several praised Williams Nursery for offering the hunt to the community, despite the problems.
“You shouldn't have to apologize for wanting to put on an event for the kids,” wrote one patron. “Thank you for being an important part of the community.”
Partner David Williams posted this apology on the business’s Facebook page:
Thank you all for your comments to our Easter Egg Hunt. We have been running this event for the past twenty years, and I know those have been here in past years noticed a dramatic change. We estimate that the number of people that showed up yesterday was between two to three times that of past years. I have no explanation for why there were so many more people this year than in past years. I know that the Westfield Lions club canceled their hunt this year after 40 years of providing a hunt to Westfield, but not sure how much of an impact that had on our numbers. This year we had reduced our marketing budget for the event by almost 75%. In the past I had promoted this event with contests on Facebook, and boosted many of our posts. This year I did not do that.
Unfortunately the number of people that showed up this year caught us unaware; there were not enough eggs, or enough space for people to have a fun event. Last year we increased the amount of eggs on the field to six thousand, which we believed was an adequate amount. Regrettably this was not the case this year, and it was not our intention to have a bunch of sad and disappointed children and parents. In their haste to not miss our event, people trampled through our neighbors’ yards, took needed doctors parking spaces at the local vet group and created a traffic nightmare. I apologize to all those people that were impacted by people coming to our event.
We tried to do the best we could yesterday given the circumstances, however, I know that many of you did not have a good time, and left many of you angry and disappointed. The family and staff are discussing what to do in the future with the egg hunt, in either a way to limit the crowds, or to cancel the event completely, and will keep you posted when the decision is made.
I am sorry that this was a bad experience to those that attended. Our intention when we created this event twenty years ago, and every year, is to make it a fun family event for our community, and we fell far short from making that happen this year.