During the past few weeks you may have noticed the return of the “Looking Back” article in The Power County Press.
Reviving this feature was a suggestion from several readers who had enjoyed the article when it was published in previous years. Most of those suggesting we return “Looking Back” also routinely read The Aberdeen Times which features the same type of article on page four and said they enjoy the insight into the history of our neighboring community.
I took on the project of researching and writing “Looking back,” and I agree with the people suggesting its return. Some of the history of American Falls we are covering was part of my lifetime and I can’t help but think of a statement Arnold Burgemeister made at a Power County Historical Society meeting, “you don’t think of it has history when it happened in your lifetime.”
I have been using the years 2004, 1994, 1964 and 1939 as the years to pull “Looking Back” topics from aligning the current week with the similar week of each of those years. Because of this alignment Easter has frequently popped up.
Because I am only using four specific years I have not been able to locate the exact starting year of the American Falls American Legion Easter egg hunt, but it is not mentioned in 1939. It is mentioned in the 1964 Press, meaning the event is at least 50 years old.
I have my own history with this annual event. My mother took me and my brother to the Easter egg hunt every year we were eligible.
Each year the members of the American Legion hide a few golden eggs. Over the years these prized eggs have changed from golden painted goose eggs, to foil wrapped chicken eggs to what they are now; larger gold painted plastic eggs that the legion reuses each year (if they are found). The prize for finding the golden egg has changed a bit as well. They have always been worth a dollar coin, but that coin has changed. Legionnaires have handed out silver dollars, Susan B. Anthony dollars, Sacagawea dollars and now presidential dollar coins.
My personal history with the Easter egg hunt includes the fact that for the 12 years I was eligible to participate I found a golden egg every year. The first few years were by luck I am sure because the term “hiding” is loosely applied to the younger age categories, “scattering” may be a better word.
The year that sticks out in my mind is the last year I was able to participate. Among the things about the Easter egg hunt that have changed over the years is the location. When I was a child it was held at the high school football field with the older kids hunting in the area we called “The Pit”.
I remember my mom mentioning to me that if I found the golden egg (actually silver. It was one of the foil wrapped years) I would have found one every year. So, no pressure, right?
I hunted the whole area to the bitter end with no success. With the panic of failure slowly creeping down my heart I saw it. The last golden (silver, sorry) egg placed high in the crook of a tree next to the city well station building. It was too high to reach and the tree wasn’t well suited for climbing. After casting about for a solution for a short time I found a stick and knocked the twelfth egg into my basket. A perfect record preserved.
Now as an adult I get to participate in the Easter egg hunt in a different way. Nearly 15 years ago my father convinced me to join the Sons of the American Legion by paying my dues. As a supporting organization to the American Legion our primary focus is helping the American Legion with their goals and projects, many of which are specifically to benefit our community.
Every year, the Saturday before Easter, members of the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary gather at the Head Start school building to boil gallons upon gallons of water coloring the 1,500 to 2,000 eggs that have been donated by local grocery stores. The boy and girl scouts also join us to put stickers on the eggs that indicate the egg is worth a piece of candy. The next day we head out to Willow Bay park to section off the different age group areas, hide the eggs and begin our annual epic battle against seagulls.
At 1 p.m. the siren of the American Falls Police Department car sounds and at 1:02 p.m. every egg has been found and by 1:30 p.m. all the candy is gone too.
I now get to supervise the 10 to 12 year-old section. Every year there are a few kids that have decided once they have arrived they are too old and too cool to look for Easter eggs. Every year there are also a couple of kids that look at the sign marking the age divisions with a little sadness because this is the last year for them. I remember having that look.
The best part for me is now I get to hide the golden eggs for those older kids. Each time they shout with joy and hold the golden egg aloft so that it catches a glint of sunlight I wonder is that their number 12.
After more than 50 years the American Falls American Legion Roland Evans Post #3 annual community Easter egg hunt is a well oiled machine because of decades spent spreading joy to local children.
Thank you to the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, AFPD, City of American Falls and all of the local businesses that have worked so hard for so long to make Easter in American Falls truly special.