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Annual Easter picnic returns to bring happiness, and help to less fortunate

As Easter returns, there are various activities throughout the weekend for participants young and old.

Organizers are expecting a large turnout for the annual Easter Day Picnic on Saturday at Ian Deutch Memorial Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The community-wide event includes games and activities for the entire family, live music, solar cooking demonstrations and free hot dogs and hamburgers.

Ice cream sandwiches, cotton candy and Kettle Korn are also provided, free of charge.

More than two dozen local businesses and agencies are sponsoring the event.

NyE Communities Coalition’s Holiday Task Force is organizing the picnic.

The coalition’s Tim Wigchers said unlike last year, the 2015 picnic will add an additional element, a food drive.

“There will be a real focus on ‘pop tops,’ like the Vienna Sausage type, or just about any canned single-serving food product with a pop top,” he said. “The idea is to focus on the families and individuals who don’t have access to heating appliances and we certainly will accept any type of donation.”

Corrections Corporation of America will provide much of the food for the picnic, as it has for the past several years.

Wigchers said staff members volunteer their time helping to grill up and serve the picnic items.

“One of the big draws is of course the free food, in large part, thanks to CCA,” He said. “We have 2,000 hamburgers and 1,500 hot dogs, so it’s a big supply. A lot of organizations, businesses and individuals have also donated to make this all possible.”

Wigchers said there will be no shortage of activities for both young and old, with a slightly different twist to an all-time favorite attraction.

“There will be a bounce house at the park and the Pahrump Disability Outreach Program has kind of retooled their turtle train ride where it now has a western theme,” he said. “There will also be a kid-sized fire truck this year as well, so it’s a great opportunity for the kids to crawl around and play fireman or fire woman.”

Wigchers said visitors may notice the traditional Easter egg hunt will also be different from last year, as it drew far more people than organizers anticipated.

He said last year’s crowding issues with the egg hunt and a few badly behaving parents created problems as both the big and little kids were battling to collect the most eggs, at the same time.

“This year we are calling it an ‘egg scramble’ instead,” he said. “It will be more like Halloween and there will be lots of different exhibitors and the kids can go around to collect their eggs from the exhibitors this year, instead of the free-for-all in the grass area. It’s a little bit different and it will start at 10 a.m. It will feel more like trick or treating and we think it’s going to be much safer and much more controlled than last year.”

Last year’s Easter Picnic coincided with the annual Earth Day celebration at the park.

Wigchers said due to Easter Day bouncing around each year, the two events could not match their respective schedules as last year.

“We will have some Earth Day-like activities, such as the popular solar oven demonstration,” he said. “Earth Day this year is about three weeks later so it’s just a little too far apart this year.”

Wigchers noted how popular the event has grown over the years, where initially, a few hundred visitors would drop by and participate.

“A third party did the Easter egg hunt so we kind of combined all of our efforts and last year actually included Earth Day so it was kind of a perfect storm of goodness and activities in the community,” he said. “We went from about 400-to-500 people (two years ago), to about 2,500 people at the park. It was fun and it was also crowded.”

As far as the location, Wigchers described it as perfect for a picnic in the park.

“Ian Deutch Park is a great venue,” he said. “I love the small park feel with all the mature trees providing lots of shade. There’s pretty decent parking nearby, but if we have a big crowd, people are going to have to walk a little. The forecast looks really good so it’s not going to be real hot. I think it will be a great day.”

Community picnics aside, other traditional Easter Sunday services are on the calendar for various churches and organizations.

The Joy Devine Community Church is holding its Sunrise Service at 151 Humahuaca St, followed by breakfast from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

An Easter Musical Presentation commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus, while celebrating the resurrection is scheduled today at First Southern Baptist Church, 4180 N. Highway 160.

Petrack Park will be the venue for an Easter Sunrise Service beginning at 6:30 a.m., on Sunday, while the Pahrump VFW Post on Homestead Road will serve an Easter Breakfast on Sunday from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m.

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