recent trip to the emerald mines of Colombia brought home for George Adeler why his jewelry store in Great Falls spends thousands of dollars each year hiding precious gems in Easter eggs for children to find. Barely able to contain his excitement as he approached the dark and dangerous mines, he realized the anticipation over what he was about to discover was a mirror for the joy he sees on children’s faces at the annual Easter Festival held on the Great Falls Green.
“It’s the inner child that makes you want to hunt. It’s the treasure, the reward,” said Adeler. “I want to recreate that fun for a child because it’s like teaching a child to have fun while they dream and explore.”
This year, Adeler, with the help of his two daughters and other volunteers, will place around $9,000 worth of gems in eggs and then scatter them around the Green for the hunt. Amethysts, blue and white topaz, peridot, garnet, sapphires, rubies and emeralds will all be hidden away for local children to discover.
“This is a sense of community and tradition the kids can enjoy. I love, especially now that I’m a mom, having a healthy, fun activity for the kids to enjoy,” said Wendy Adeler. The festival has been going on for so many years that lucky parents are saving the gems to make a keepsake for their children when they are older. “A lot of parents are saving them to make a bracelet when they are 16,” said Wendy Adeler.
“YOU KNOW, even if I didn’t want to do it anymore, I couldn’t,” said Adeler. “People look at us like we are out of our minds if we suggest this.” The festival will be held this year on April 4, from 2-4 p.m., at the Great Falls Village Center. One in 10 eggs has a gem tucked inside it. The rest have an assortment of candies.
“Two to three months of work [putting the eggs together] disappears in a minute or a minute and a half,” said Adler. For children who don’t find eggs or children with special needs, there are volunteers who have extra eggs to give out.
The giant Easter Bunny is in charge of nut-free candy to prevent allergic reactions. “We try to accommodate people whenever we can,” said Wendy Adeler.
Adults are not charged to attend the event, which includes rides and games in addition to the egg hunt. However, the Adelers could use the help of volunteers to try to contain the chaos that erupts when hundreds of small children are let loose at once to search for gems and candy.
“When the kids ask me how much [the gems] are worth, I ask how long it took to find them. It’s worth five minutes of fun, of the excitement. You can’t recreate that,” said Adler.
His appreciation for the zeal of children went up threefold recently when, within 18 hours, his two daughters gave him three grandchildren.
His sense of community and family not only keep him in Great Falls, they have driven him to create a unique atmosphere that embraces his values. For years he labored to have the county permit him to build a platinum workshop at his store. He finally got the go-ahead, only to have that treasured space turned into a nursery for his grandchildren. “It was kidnapped by two pregnant women and Winnie the Pooh while I was away,” said Adeler.
HAVING THREE GENERATIONS of Adelers, as well as the family dogs, all working side by side is perfect for the Adelers. “That’s the way we grew up here,” said Wendy Adeler of the family atmosphere.
It’s not unusual for Adeler to be having a private consultation with a client, only to have his young granddaughter run into his office wanting to play. Playing around an exclusive jewelry store is bound to instill in his grandchildren the same love of gems that Adeler maintains.
“I believe a passion for gems is a quest, a dream. Gems are more than an ornamental item. Every time I see something last two or three thousand years in history, I associate it with very strong fundamentals. Gems have survived thousands of years as a very important part of human culture because they always represent something important to the soul, not just fashion. Gems,” said Adeler, “penetrate the imagination of the individual.”
Throughout the spring Adeler and his daughters will be using their creative talents to design settings for the collection of emeralds that he brought back from Colombia. These, too, have a place in Adeler’s heart and imagination. Colombians risk their lives, for four years at a time, working in the mines for no pay. They work for the same reason Adeler does, for the thrill of finding the elusive and precious gems. “We all need something that is precious,” said Adeler.