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Easter egg hunts cancelled in RVC

Easter is going to look a little different in Rocky View County this year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, Easter egg hunts and community events have been cancelled en masse, in compliance with government bans on gatherings of more than 15 people and urges to practice social distancing.

In Chestermere, the United Way’s 10th annual Easter egg hunt and fundraiser, co-organized by the municipality, was slated to take place April 11. Once the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic, Bernie Morton, the City of Chestermere’s director of emergency management and chief administrative officer, announced all upcoming community events were postponed or cancelled.

“While we, like many in our community, are disappointed that events like the Easter egg hunt had to be cancelled, the safety of our community comes first,” he said in an email to the Rocky View Weekly.

“In the meantime, we ask everyone to follow all physical distancing and strong hygiene practices.”

The annual event, held at Lakeside Golf Club, typically raises more than $2,000 each year, according to the City, with about 400 kids taking part. All funds raised are reinvested or reallocated back into community programs, through the Human Services Advisory Board.

At this time, Morton said, the City is not exploring alternative options for fundraising but will revisit this in the coming weeks, once the threat of COVID-19 has been reduced.

He added the City is advising people to avoid gatherings this Easter.

“Instead, we encourage our community to find creative ways to celebrate these events safely from home with the people they live with, and connect with other loved ones online,” he said. “Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community."

In Cochrane, Tapestry Church’s third annual community Easter event, which would have been held April 11 at Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre, also had to be called off due to the pandemic.

“We can’t remember the exact time we decided to call it, but it was before things were cancelled,” pastor Kelly Reid said. “We saw the writing on the wall, so we contacted Spray Lake, where we hosted the event. They were very understanding and they’re obviously closed now, as well, so we’re all disappointed. But we understand why the decision had to be made.”

According to Reid, the first two iterations of the event averaged 1,000 attendees. The hunt, held on the indoor soccer field at Spray Lake, was accompanied by other entertainment options for kids, including carnival games, a photo booth and story telling.

With community egg hunts cancelled this year, Reid suggests families keep their Easter activities at home – or find other fun ways to celebrate.

“We didn’t grow up in the church, but we always did an Easter egg hunt on Easter morning at our home, growing up,” he said. “I know some other churches have started putting things in windows and encouraging families to drive around town, looking for Easter egg posters in windows.

“I know people are trying to find creative ways to get out and still kind of celebrate. It’s a weird time right now, and we’re all trying to do our best.”

Along with community events, Easter Sunday services will also have to be adapted this year. In lieu of holding gatherings in person, many churches are filming services and posting them on online platforms such as Zoom or Facebook Live.

Reid said Tapestry Church’s weekly Facebook Live sermons have seen increased engagement in recent weeks. Before the pandemic, he said, the in-church services would see an average of 60 to 70 people attend, but the last few online services have each reached hundreds.

“We’re finding creative ways to make sure our community stays together, even though we can’t actually be together,” he said.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Follow our COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19

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