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Kids eager for eggs enjoy UMW festival

Hundreds of Fredericksburg-area children stormed the hill in front of the University of Mary Washington’s Brompton on Sunday afternoon, waging war against each other for pastel-colored Easter eggs hidden in the grass.

The egg hunt was part of UMW’s annual Spring Forward Festival, which also offers crafts, visits with the Easter Bunny, popcorn and cotton candy to local families.

Some children returned from the initial skirmish feeling defeated.

Jayden Green, 5, found just two eggs. But after opening those eggs with his mother, Jessica Fravel, he discovered he won one of the grand-prize gift baskets, full of sports balls, candy and coloring books.

Others, like best friends Lily Yager, 8, and Alicia Bailey, 7, emerged victorious from the hillside assault with nearly 20 eggs each.

“It was really good,” Lily said. “I got 19.”

Alicia agreed that the egg hunt was “really good.”

“We shared the eggs, too,” Alicia said. Both prefer chocolate but traded other candies such as Skittles and Laffy Taffy after the first egg hunt of the day in front of the historic home, which found itself at the center of the Battle of Fredericksburg, and later served as a Union hospital. It is now the residence of UMW’s president, currently Rick Hurley, and his wife, Rose.

The event offered three egg hunts between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. and was sponsored by UMW’s student community service group Community Outreach and Resources (COAR).

Christina Eggenberger, director of service at UMW, said Sunday’s festival was prepared to host 300 children.

The free annual event is one of two offered by COAR each year. The other, Pumpkin Palooza, which allows kids to trick-or-treat on UMW’s campus and make autumn-themed crafts, is offered in October.

UMW students involved with COAR manned the craft tables.

Sara Cristafulli, a junior education major, helped children color paper cutouts of chicks.

“I want to be a kindergarten teacher, so this is great,” she said. “They’re very creative. They have been naming them, too. One named theirs Sid, and another was Chickadee.”

Lisa Dixon of Spotsylvania County brought her two daughters Jasmine, 8, and Brianna, 6, to the event.

Before attempting the crafts, both girls stopped to get face paint done. Brianna had a student paint her face like a cat, while Jasmine had a chick hatching from an egg painted on her arm.

The egg hunt would be the high point for the sisters. Last year Brianna found 18 and she was confident she would find plenty Sunday.

Lauren Barcas of Stafford County also brought her daughters Ella, 6, and Clara, 5, to participate.

“Last year we were driving past and saw the signs,” she said. “It was great. You always leave with so much stuff.”

Ella and Clara wore their purple and blue Easter dresses to the Spring Forward Festival, having just been to JCPenny to have photos taken.

The event, they decided, was way more fun than sitting for pictures.

“It’s good,” Ella said about the event. “It’s fun.”

Clara had a strategy for finding eggs. She said she would focus on trees in the area, since there are usually eggs hidden around roots or in branches.

Venise Lewis of Fredericksburg and her son, Ramsey Belyamani, 3, have come to the Spring Forward Festival every year since he was born.

Ramsey insisted on bringing two baskets to the event this year in case they found too many for just one.

But his favorite part of the day was cotton candy. The pink swirl of sugar was bigger than his head, but “taste real good.”

Senior English major Colleen Clark and junior psychology major Abbi Heller helped children create stuffed rabbits with socks, rice, rubber bands, ribbons and markers.

“It’s fun and it’s a nice day,” Clark said.

“And it’s nice helping kids,” Heller added.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976