The Great Consumer Easter Egg Scramble


Each year the city my family lives in holds an Easter egg scramble. About 10,000 of those pastel-colored, plastic eggs are scattered throughout the city’s largest park. The eggs are filled with candy, toys, or prize coupons. All children 12 and under are welcome to take part.

After watching my two boys participate in it for the first time last weekend, I’m wondering if we’ll do it again next year. Instead of a fun-filled event, the scramble turned in to an ugly display of the consumer mentality – the idea that there’s never enough and one has to get what he or she can before others take it.

Our two boys aren’t old enough to understand the finer points of an Easter egg scramble which, last time I checked, is to gather as many eggs as fast as you can.

My oldest son, almost three, gathers eggs at a pace that makes a sloth look like a cheetah. He needs to proudly show Mom and Dad the egg he’s found then shake it to make sure there’s candy inside before he moves on to the next one.

My 18-month-old is more likely to pick up one egg, open it, and devour the candy inside and forget about the other eggs. One Easter egg filled with treats is more than enough to bring a smile to his face.

Our two boys fell in the three-and-under section of the scramble. Parents were told they were allowed to aid their kids in gathering eggs. My wife and I assumed this meant accompanying our boys and pointing to an egg and, perhaps, giving one to show them how it was done and encouraging them to pick up another one.

It seemed like the other kids in this section were as clueless as our boys as to why they were there. Though a few three-year-olds wanted to run out and grab some eggs early most of the kids clung to mom or dad or ran around on the grass, playing. A two-year-old girl with dark red hair standing next to us seemed more interested in trying to play with our boys than going after Easter eggs.

Then the horn sounded and chaos ensued.

The parents in our section descended upon the candy-filled eggs, dragging their children behind them. From the way many parents acted you’d have thought these were the last Easter eggs on Earth or that one of them held a million dollar prize. They’d pick up an egg, throw it in the child’s basket, and quickly pounce on the next egg before the kid knew what was happening.

In less than 30 seconds the several thousand eggs in our section were gathered. Most of the kids still had dazed looks on their faces when it was over. They seemed to be asking the same question as my wife and I: “What just happened?”

We thought the Easter egg scramble was for kids, not parents. The event should have taken ten minutes – not 30 seconds. It should have been a chance for the kids to have fun and learn how to compete with each other, not with adults.

Sadly, the parent’s fear or loss overpowered what should have been a fun event for children. Instead of letting kids enjoy gathering eggs according to their own ability, it turned into a depressing spectacle of parents pushing each other out of the way for a plastic egg filled with a few pieces of candy.

Our experience on Saturday showed that our children are too young to fully understand and appreciate the purpose of an Eater egg scramble.

Unfortunately, most parents didn’t seem to understand the purpose of it either.


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