As children watched their pastor give an outdoor gospel presentation the day before Easter Sunday, their attention quickly shifted to the helicopter circling the blue sky above the Jubilee Christian Center.
“Of course I present the gospel,” said Todd McKeever, the children’s minister at Jubilee. “I’m a children’s pastor, that’s my heartbeat.”
The helicopter itself didn’t mesmerize the children, they were anticipating what was soon to be thrown from it: jumbo-size marshmallows. The marshmallows were part of the church’s Eggstravaganza, but the soft and sticky treats with red tickets stuffed inside meant three lucky hunters would take home a PlayStation 2 video game system. This upped the ante to any regular old Easter egg-hunt.
“We didn’t want to compete with any other churches or events,” said McKeever. “It just happened to be that last Saturday we were rained out.”
The church estimated that about 1,500 people attended the event, which lasted most of the afternoon on Saturday, April 14. Church volunteers had the grill going all day long, churning out more than 1,000 hot dogs for attendees.
“It’s fantastic,” said Carolyn Adkins, while helping her daughter gather marshmallows. “Everyone is so nice.”
ONCE THE EASTER egg hunt, children dashed for the field where the eggs were hidden. Two church volunteers, dressed up in Mr. and Mrs. Bunny suits, stood at the entrance to greet children as they began their search for Easter eggs. Most of the children ran right on by them in a determined effort to fill up their baskets. Some children were looking upward for the first batch of marshmallows to drop from the sky, while others were too busy collecting the 10,000 eggs scattered through the hunting grounds. Each item collected earned at least some kind of prize. The plastic eggs were filled with candy and other items, and each marshmallow collected could be redeemed for a prize at the church’s prize table area. Since the treats were dropped from above, most of them were covered in dirt and grass.
“Unfortunately, some of the kids are eating [the marshmallows],” said Melanie Ferguson, a church volunteer distributing prizes for marshmallows.
The man dressed as Mr. Bunny, Mike Frasnelli, didn’t waste any time before escaping the 78-degree weather to change out of his thick and heavy costume. He said he didn’t mind though, he just loves being there for the children.
“I’m always up for it,” said Frasnelli, the son of the church’s senior pastor, Bill Frasnelli. “I keep involved with the church any way I can.”
McKeever hinted that next year’s Eggstravaganza would be bigger and better than this one. He said he was disappointed the petting zoo didn’t come through this year, but said next year would certainly make up for it.
“Next year is going to make this look like kiddy-land,” said McKeever.