On Easter Sunday, the holiest day on the Christian calendar, billions of people around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, so that the sins of humanity could be forgiven. Each of the Gospels in the New Testament give an account of this all-important and distinctive event — the foundation of the Christian faith.
So what do the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs have to do with it?
There are many explanations for how our current traditions came to pass – some of them true, and some of them the stuff of legend. However it happened, Easter bunnies, eggs, candy, egg hunts, and baskets have become a part of the way we enjoy Easter with our families and friends. The College Station Easter Celebration, held annually the weekend before Easter, has been a local tradition, since its humble beginnings more than 30 years ago. If you participated as a child, you will remember it at a number of locations around town. Since 1999, it has been at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Since that time, the event has grown to include games, face painting, and refreshments, to name a few, but also the all-important White House-style wooden egg.
National Easter egg rolls were first held in the early 1800’s on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and were moved to the White House grounds in 1878 by Rutherford B. Hayes. President Hayes and his wife, Lucy, officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for egg rolling on the Monday after Easter, and successive presidents have continued the tradition. In the late-1970’s and early-1980’s, White House Easter Roll attendees began to have a chance to take home an official White House Easter Egg. The early versions of this treasure were real eggs that had been blown and hand-decorated, plastic eggs filled with toys, and wooden eggs. Over time, the wooden egg was adopted as the official giveaway, and they have become highly collectible. When the Bush Library and Museum decided to take on a local version of the White House Easter egg roll, having an official wooden egg was an easy decision. Each year, two colors are selected and an event logo is created. As volunteers stuff hundreds of grab bags to be given away at the event, they place one of the wooden eggs in each bag. Families return year-after-year just to add to their collections!
The Easter Celebration is much more than wooden eggs, however. Free carnival games are scattered throughout, along with bounce houses, police and fire vehicles, popcorn, snow cones, and face painting. The Easter Bunnies arrive via fire truck to really get the event started, and the Easter Egg Hunt begins promptly at 10 a.m. Tens of thousands of plastic eggs are scattered between three hunt fields, which are divided by age: 3 and under, 4-5, and 6-7. The College Station Fire Department will sound the alarm to get the hunt started, and if you’re late, you’ll miss it. The event’s evolution has included the addition of balloon animals, a kite flying contest, and a fantastic partnership with Bryan Broadcasting. Peace 107 has been instrumental in getting our kite flying contest off the ground – literally! This year, they will have some kites to hand out, but you are also encouraged to bring your own. Trophies will be given for the highest flyer, judges choice, most artistic, and fan favorite.
One of the other important features of the Easter Celebration is the door prize giveaway. The police department will give away door prizes – including bicycles! The door prize drawing will take place immediately following the egg hunt, and you must be present to win. The prizes are drawn for both boys and girls separately in the three different age groups: 3 and under, 4-5, and 6-7. If you’d like for your children to be eligible for the door prizes, you must register them ahead of time. The registration form can be found on either the Bush Library or the City of College Station websites.
The event, including parking, is free, but we do sell event t-shirts and wooden eggs from years past. Monies raised will go to offset some of the cost of the event. Parking is available in lots 43 and 111. Barbara Bush Drive will close at 9 a.m., so all attendees will need to enter through Research Park. There will be plenty of event signage and staff from Transportation Services to help you find your way.
When you’re there, be sure to stop in to the museum to see the newest changing exhibit, “History in the Making: Texas A&M Forest Service.” The Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) is celebrating 100 years of service with an exhibit at the Bush Library and Museum. Opening March 16 and running through November 8, this exhibit will tell the story of how this agency has grown over the last century. In its early days, it was a few dedicated forest patrolmen on horseback. Today, it’s a statewide agency that trains and equips landowners, communities, and fire departments so that they may prevent, prepare for, and protect against wildfires. TFS is also the incident management agency for state emergencies. They led the management of such incidents as the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery in East Texas, the exotic Newcastle disease outbreak in West Texas, and provided logistical support in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike.
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University is dedicated to preserving and making available the records and artifacts of George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States. We promote civic literacy and increased historical understanding of our national experience, and foster a community of public service and volunteerism. We accomplish this mission by offering rich educational and public programs, original museum exhibits, and access to our archival holdings.
The College Station Easter Celebration is provided free to the community, because of a number of partnerships. A major portion of the funding comes from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, but many local businesses help with in-kind donations. We appreciate all of our sponsors!
We’d love for you to add this to your family’s annual Easter traditions. Bring your camera to take your child’s picture with the Easter Bunny at the College Station Easter Celebration! We hope to see you there on Saturday, March 28, from 9:30 a.m. until noon! For more information or to register for door prizes, visit Bush41.org.
submitted by the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum