Pilot story and photos

by Andrea Barkan

When the clock ticked 9 a.m. Saturday in Azalea Park, the hunt was on.

Between 300 and 400 children rushed the sun-drenched park, which Brookings Elks and Emblem Club members had transformed - at least momentarily - into a giant easter basket for the 2004 Elks Easter Egg Hunt.

It only took the children about 15 minutes to pluck most of the 5,000 easter eggs tucked in shrubs and perched in tree tops.

andquot;They're fast,andquot; Bob Gardner, easter egg hunt chairman, proclaimed.

andquot;It takes an hour and a half to put them down and 15 minutes to pick them up,andquot; Norm Hansen, chairman of Brookings Elks trustees, said.

Gardner said this was likely the Elks' 50th egg hunt.

andquot;I'm pretty sure they've done it right from the beginning,andquot; he said.

Members of Brookings Elks 1934 and the Emblem Club boiled and colored 5,000 eggs for the hunt, Gardner said.

andquot;It was a team effort,andquot; he said.

Some bright plastic eggs containing prize vouchers for toys, a total of $80 in prize money and a total of 80 pounds of candy found their way into baskets, too.

Eggs and treats are donated by local businesses and community members, Gardner said.

The easter bunny, also known as Emblem Club member Frances Kern, even made an appearance.

andquot;It's for the kids,andquot; Gardner said.

Just an hour after the hunt began, as only a few stragglers sauntered around the park, Gardner proclaimed, andquot;There is not an egg left.andquot;