Burlington, News

An eggs-citing event for the community

Children and their parents begin foraging for filled Easter Eggs on March 16 in the Burlington High School gymnasium (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers).

Thousands show up for annual DRIVEN Easter Egg hunt

By Jason Arndt

Thousands of children, including some decked out in Easter Bunny attire, took over the Burlington High School gymnasium to hunt for scores of eggs during an annual event presented by the school’s DRIVEN student leadership program.

The 15th annual event came courtesy of numerous business contributions while some participating families donated items to the Love, Inc. food pantry.

Matt Nie, faculty advisor for DRIVEN, said he was impressed with the turnout.

“It was a door busting event as over 1,000 attendees filled Burlington High School for the largest free Easter Egg Hunt in southeastern Wisconsin,” Nie said.

He said Karcher Middle School students, members of the DRIVEN leadership team, and special education students all spent hours filling more than 10,000 eggs.

The 15th annual event drew a record crowd.

Junior Rylan Schultz, of the DRIVEN team, spent time collecting donations for the bake sale from local businesses to help with the annual event, which was titled “Luck of the Egg-rish.”

“I love seeing all the people here. It’s a great event, and you see a lot of people come here and enjoy it,” Schultz said.

In 2023, as a sophomore, Schultz volunteered at the drawing table where children spent time coloring and participating in other activities.

He said he recognized how many children benefited from the student volunteers who helped with the activities.

“It was really great to have all the kids there, enjoying their time,” Schultz said.

DRIVEN members also painted faces, scattered eggs, and presented other activities, including visits with the Easter Bunny.

Books and Bunnies, a new feature for 2024, allowed children to read books to real bunnies before the youngsters went into the gymnasium to find plastic-filled Easter eggs.

“Over five hunts took place in a massive community that brought out the best of Burlington,” Nie said.

Children were split into age groups, allowing an easier hunt for them, Nie said.

One egg hunt was a low-stimulus activity.

Annie Sireno and her daughter Sydney, 4, sort through a basket filled with plastic Easter eggs during the Burlington High School DRIVEN project on March 16 in the gymnasium (Jason Arndt/Southern Lakes Newspapers),

Variety of visitors
While many have made the event an annual tradition, others came for the first time, including Genoa City’s Valerie Connelly.

Connelly, who learned about the event through a neighbor, believed it would be productive for her daughter, whom she predicted was going to “love it” after learning more about it.

When she first arrived, Connelly found hundreds of children, including her daughter, were enthusiastic for the Easter Egg hunt as well as other activities.

“There are a lot of people and a lot of fun,” Connelly said.

Evan Calkins, of Burlington, is not new to the DRIVEN project. He recalled his oldest daughter attending as a child and has now become a part of the DRIVEN team.

“My oldest has probably been here for about 12 years, and now she’s actually in DRIVEN, so she’s working here,” said Calkins, who brought his daughter, Brynlee, 9, to the recent event.

Calkins said it’s an annual tradition for his family because of the variety of activities.

“We come here because there is a lot to do. There are lots of kids and lots of eggs,” Calkins said. “I like seeing the excitement in all of the kids.”

Community support
The free event would not have been possible without countless volunteer hours and generous donations from community supporters, Nie said.

Supporters include the Burlington Rotary Club, United Way of Racine County, The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine Street, Satter Surveying, and scores of local bakeries.

The United Way of Racine County, in a social media post, said the organization felt fortunate to be involved.

“We were proud to help support the event through Equity Innovation Fund,” United Way officials wrote on its Instagram page.

Other contributions came from the Ewald, Behling, Roanhouse, Grant, Ellingham, Kwiatkowski, Warren, Kerkhoff, LaRose, Pedersen, Tiedt, Laube and Pieters families.

“There’s a lot of work and time that we needed to put all of the eggs together,” Schultz said. “The business contributions have helped a lot and made it free for everybody.”

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