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SMILE 'Easter Egg Hunt' still draws big crowds

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The athletic fields at the south end of the park offer egg excitement for about seven minutes to lots of kids once every year!

DAVID F. ASHTON - The countdown reaches zero, and the SMILE Easter Egg Hunt at Westmoreland Park is underway! For as long as most can remember, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League neighborhood association (SMILE) has hosted an annual Easter Egg Hunt at the very south end of Westmoreland Park.

The hunt's location changed a little this year – as it was held at 10 a.m., on April 15 – volunteers had moved it about 200 feet north into less muddy ground.

"It was just too muddy under the trees, and I'm sure the families will find us here, in the sunshine," beamed Portland Oaks Bottom Lions Club President Irv Smith.

A half hour before the starting time, many of the 18 Lions Club volunteers were busily raking the area, clearing it of natural debris; others were stringing up orange ribbons, marking off the areas to be set aside for kids in specified age groups.

"We volunteer at this event is a way to give back to the community, partnering with the SMILE," Smith said. "It's something that we enjoy, and that the kids enjoy – making it a nice event for the community."

Right up until the start time, families were swarming into the area from all directions. Lions Club members emptied box after box of foil-wrapped chocolate candy eggs bought by SMILE as a crowd swelled at the starting line.

"There's always a connection between Lions Club members and kids; this is one of the most important ones for us," Smith observed.

Seconds before 10:00 a.m., Smith began the countdown, and the crowd chanted along. "Five, four, three, two, one!" and the kids were off.

By 10:07 a.m. the entire area was stripped of eggs, and everyone looked happy and satisfied after participating in this eternal neighborhood Easter-time celebration.