The 400 eggs hidden at Old City Cemetery's shrub garden were no match for the 30 children who arrived — Easter baskets in hand — on Saturday morning.
In around 20 minutes, those baskets were full of brightly colored plastic eggs.
In an effort to hold a COVID-19-safe family event, Old City Cemetery put on its first Easter egg hunt Saturday in its more than two-acre Earley Shrub Garden, part of the 27-acre historic site in Lynchburg.
"A cemetery is probably not the first place people think of to bring kids, but we definitely do have a lot of kids come out here for the swing and for the goats, and we want to increase the events they come out here for," said Lucas Peed, marketing and events planner at Old City Cemetery.
Denise McDonald, executive director of Old City Cemetery, said staff thought an Easter egg hunt would be the perfect way to engage families.
"Our mission is to engage the community through history and horticulture," McDonald said. "We just wanted to have a chance for families to gather around, enjoy the beauty of our gardens and celebrate the season."
McDonald said the cemetery grounds have remained open through the pandemic for residents to stroll, exercise and play. With the flowers beginning to bloom and the arrival of spring, McDonald said she hopes to see even more families enjoying the facilities. Including family members and volunteers, about 100 community members attended Saturday's event.
Peed said the event was made possible in part by partnerships with local businesses.
Among the 400 total eggs hidden in the shrub garden, six were multi-colored and contained a coupon, donated by Mama Crockett's Cider Donuts, for a free doughnut.
Peed said Givens Books & Little Dickens donated two $10 gift certificates — one went to the child who found the golden egg, and one to the child who found the most eggs. The child who found the fewest eggs also won a prize — a $10 gift card to Chick-fil-A, donated by a former Old City Cemetery board member, Peed said.
Lynchburg resident Nancy Cook said since the beginning of the pandemic, she has been on the lookout for COVID-19-safe outdoor activities for her children and was glad to come across this one.
"The kids loved it," Cook said. "They had smiles on their faces the whole time."
Forest resident Laurie Gulluscio volunteered at Saturday's event and said she was excited to see so many families show up.
"This is a very romantic place, it's got amazing history, it's a time capsule," Gulluscio said. "People need to know this is here and just what a gem it is."
Peed said in the future, the cemetery hopes to hold more history-based events for families and children, as well as some horticulture-driven projects, such as a children's garden. With the community response to Saturday's Easter egg hunt, he predicts the event will become an annual one.
"I think in the future we'll definitely have to get more eggs, because these little ones are professionals," Peed said.
“I think in the future we’ll definitely have to get more eggs, because these little ones are professionals.”
— Lucas Peed, marketing and events planner at Old City Cemetery