By John Morton
Needless to say, the 100-plus kids who raced around the playground area at Turtle Beach for an Easter-eve party were delighted.
And the adults on hand were not only delighted, they were relieved.
“It’s just fantastic that there’s finally something for the kids to do. Back home, we have nothing going on like this,” said Buffalo’s Cory Dziduch while his 2-year-old son Ayden tossed beanbags through holes in a wooden Easter bunny. “What a great chance to finally get some fresh air.”
The sun-splashed April 3 morning brought out a large crowd for the event, hosted by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce with help from the local Kiwanis group. Egg hunts, snow cones, games and prizes were among the highlights, along with visits from the Easter Bunny, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s mounted patrol, a fire truck and ambulance drive-by, and an animal education session with Big Cat Habitat’s Stella the Sloth.
“It’s so nice to see them all out here,” Kevin Ritchey, a Siesta Key resident, said of the kids. “Life has been so childless for so many of us.”
His grandson Jax, 6, and granddaughter Olive, 4, were among them. They were finally visiting from Wilson, Wyoming, after more than a year.
“It’s been tough on them to not see their grandpa for so long. Really, they haven’t even seen other kids,” Peter Kocubinski, their father, said. “Getting outside is also nice. Where we came from, there are still 10-foot snow piles.”
Considering the fact that so many kids have been cooped-up for a long time, Kocubinski was impressed at how well-behaved the kids were.
“We’ve been to some egg hunts where everyone was very aggressive,” he said after his kids collected their treats. “This one was very nice and calm. It is well-organized.”