Woman puts in eggstra effort for Easter | PostIndependent.com

Woman puts in eggstra effort for Easter

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

For the past 23 years, Rhonda Coller has transformed tens of thousands of white eggs into colorful children’s treasures. This year is her finale.”Enough’s enough, I guess,” said Rhonda, as she dyed eggs Friday with her 3-year-old granddaughter, Hayley. “It’s neat to see the kids who have grown up who come out to the hunt with kids of their own. I’m doing good now but come next year, I’ll miss it.”Each spring, Coller and her husband, Marvin, host New Castle’s only Easter egg hunt. Rhonda dyes more than 1,000 eggs, bakes hundreds of cupcakes, and divides 120,000 pieces of candy between several treat bags for kids.”I called Wal-Mart to order candy, and when I went to pick up the order, they told me they thought it was a hoax,” said Rhonda, who works at the post office in Glenwood Springs. “They thought someone called in a joke.”The Coller’s Easter egg hunt started out with their preschool children and their classmates searching for eight dozen eggs in the family orchard. Saturday’s event at the Riverside Middle School football field included 1,280 hidden eggs, 200 iced cupcakes in the shape of Easter baskets and 15,000 bags of candy.”I get up in the morning, pour myself a cup of coffee and wonder where I’ll hide the eggs,” Rhonda said. “Nobody knows where they’re at except for me.”Rhonda said kids from toddlers to 12-year-olds attend the hunt at 10 a.m. the day before Easter.”We’ve had kids show up in their pajamas,” she said. “One year we had somebody recognize the Easter bunny by the voice and she was worried he wouldn’t make it to her house that night.”Marvin said kids take the annual Easter egg hunt seriously. In 2004, he timed the event and it took just three and a half minutes to complete.”Last year a little boy brought a garbage can and filled it with eggs and candy,” said Marvin, owner of Canyon Plumbing and Heating, the sponsor of the event. “It’s like watching a vacuum cleaner go over the football field.”Not only do kids take home dyed eggs and bags of candy after the hunt, but a few lucky winners take home prizes such as games, skateboards and Easter baskets.”We just throw candy all over the field. The most bags I’ve ever made is 22,000,” said Rhonda, a grandmother of four. “There are four prizes and four baskets for each group. We’ve never had anyone donate anything.”Although cost is not the reason the Collers have decided to end their Easter egg hunt run, Marvin estimated they spend around $2,600 to put on the event.”We do this for the community and the little guys,” he said. “It wouldn’t be so bad if we had help. Rhonda has worked every night, staying up until 2 a.m. We’re just getting too old.”Rhonda said she will miss the annual project of coloring eggs and baking cupcakes, and she hopes the tradition will live on in New Castle.”I’m hoping the town or the rec hall will do it,” she said. “Last year it got to the point where we just didn’t have any help and we were not going to do it this year. But we decided we better just turn around and do it one more year.”Maybe the Easter bunny will come through in 2006.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

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