Juelz Morales, 9, (center) in the bunny hop race. Photo by Craig Cummins

By Craig Cummins

Games, eggs and animals took over the UltraStar Multi-tainment Center’s field, as the 12th annual Maricopa Easter Egg Hunt kicked off.

Hosted by the Community Hope Church, the event is a way for the church to give back to the community and let the people know that they are there.

“There are no profits, this isn’t a revenue making event. We spend money to provide this event. We have a couple of major sponsors, but this is something the Community of Hope provides for the city and community because we love the community,” said Pastor Rusty Akers.

What started as a small community event in Jane Askew Park and Ranch 12 years ago, has now bolstered into a festival driving in an estimated 3,000 attendees per event in recent years.

“It started out really small and it’s grown big, but we love this day,” Akers added.

This year’s festival included six inflatable bounce areas, Easter egg hunts, over a dozen side-games, a reptile exhibit, petting zoo, and the quintessential photo stand for photos with the Easter Bunny.

Kids raced from stand to stand playing the games and interacting with the attractions, gathering as many prizes as they could while parents attempted to keep up.

“We’ve lived in Maricopa for five years and we come every year,” said Samantha Morales, who attended with her three children. “I take them every year so they can play the games and the bounce houses.”

With the abundance of game stations and activities, each child had a favorite.

“I liked the face paint. I got a snake,” said Samantha’s son Juelz Morales, 9, a fourth grader at Leading Edge Elementary.

Makai Wood, 8, a third grader at Santa Rosa Elementary said, “I want to see the Easter Bunny because she gives me candy.”

Makai’s mom Tiffany Alexander said, “It’s a nice local event and it’s nice to have something like this in town.”

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