By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – Naomy Valle had a definite objective in mind Saturday morning at Waryas Park.
“When I go to get the eggs, I’m going for the jackpot,” exclaimed the City of Poughkeepsie third grader. “I want to get the most chocolate.”
Valle was one of hundreds of youth (as well as adults) who was diligently and eagerly hunting for colorful, festive eggs at Poughkeepsie’s Waterfront locale as part of the John Flowers and His Elves With Think Differently Old-Fashioned Annual Easter Egg Hunt. Started up in 1995 by the late, local philanthropist Flowers, the Egg Hunt was aimed at giving kids something to do during the Easter Holiday; it has since blossomed into a wide spectrum of offerings, including; face painting, games and contests, outdoor playing, vendor appearances, and of course food, and plenty of it. This year’s varied selection of free refreshments included; chili, chicken tacos, hot dogs, corn on the cob as well as other tasty selections.
The popular Spring holiday gathering also drew the attention of several political dignitaries; Randy Johnson; Rob Rollison, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor; and Marc Molinaro; Dutchess County Executive, each offering words of gratitude and praise to the hundreds of volunteers, including students from Poughkeepsie High School, Power Kingdom Riders handing out some of the over 400 donated Easter Baskets, as well as a host of people from a multitude of local organizations, whose selfless efforts all contributed to the highly successful, fun day. Its that exact “coming together of a community,” along with overall helping and bonding for a common cause that John Flowers first envisioned over 20 years ago when he initiated this and similar community events. Now, his children, Frank and Yvonne (5th Ward Counilperson in Poughkeepsie), have taken that illuminating “torch,” continuing and growing the events that were such an integral part of their father’s spirit.
“Today looked to be a great event; we had an amazing turnout, and all went very smoothly,” said Mr. Flowers. “Everyone played their part extremely well to make all of this happen, and it paid off, as everyone who came out had a really great time.”
In addition to the regular, past assortment of activities, this year’s venue added a new guest: “Think Differently,” an organization for assisting those with challenges; a wheelchair egg hunt segment was also available among the six different groups enjoying themselves gathering the colorful egg prizes.
Additionally, a local teacher in the Poughkeepsie School District was offering her services, running a variety of games and contests with children. As with past John Flowers Easter Egg Hunts and similar venues throughout the year, Saturday’s event was dedicated to special people who played pivotal roles in its success. This year, those individuals were: Joe O’Conner, whose family and staff from his law firm, also helped hand out Easter Baskets as well as contribute in many other ways and Sarah Fiason and her family who have been helping out and attending every single one of the Flowers events over the years, logging long, impressive hours, freely giving of their time from the heart.
All of those united efforts paid tremendous dividends in the smiles and appreciation that could be located all over Waryas Park throughout Saturday morning and afternoon. Whether it was the elation of a youngster seeking out colored eggs, a child getting bunny ears or a hatched chicken painted on his or her face, or simply being outside in the fresh air with family, friends and community, the day had something special to offer everyone.
“We have been coming here for nine years, and it really is great, giving the kids and the community something memorable to do,” said City of Poughkeepsie’s Nyree Collins, who attended with her two children. “There really is something here for everyone-kids, parents, grandparents, you name it, they have it.”
The Flowers altruistic tradition of joining the community together continues in May when they provide flowers to local nursing homes as well as other places. A Father’s Day Parade then follows up in June, and then a Back to School Church Picnic takes place in late summer.