Cloudy weather doesn’t dim Easter in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — Despite a lack of sunshine, Port Townsend celebrated Easter Sunday with sunrise services, egg hunts, brunches and bunny hugs.

“She loves the Easter bunny,” said B.J. Elliott, watching her 2-year-old daughter, Paris, give the big white rabbit a hug at Chetzemoka Park.

Paris was one of several hundred children who got up at dawn to hunt eggs at the granddaddy of Easter egg hunts, held at the park for 74 years.

Sponsored by the Port Townsend Elks Lodge with help from Boy Scout Troop 479, it features the Easter bunny — this year played by Jack Gaddis — hundreds of colored eggs, gold and silver eggs redeemable for cash, and prize eggs, which in the past were real eggs with numbers on them.

“This year the prize eggs are plastic so the birds won’t take them,” explained Brenda Gaddis, an Elk who got up at 4:30 a.m. to deliver the eggs to the park.

Cash egg

Getting a cash egg was the reason Ryan Taylor, 11, and friends Gabe Hensley, Alek Poole, Tristan Poole and Davey Wakefield were first in line at the gate.

With them were Lacey Hart, 12, and Stevi Manthe, 11, who were wearing coats over their pajamas.

“It’s worth getting up for, but not worth getting dressed for,” Lacey said of the early morning hunt.

Jeremiah Thetford, 4, broke from the side gate with the younger crowd to find two prize eggs that he redeemed for “lots of chocolate bunnies and a big chocolate bunny.”

The Chetzemoka hunt is a tradition in his family — grandmother Christie Hensley has been coming to the hunt since she was 3 years old.

“We call it hunting Easters,” Hensley said. “We say we’re going to the park to hunt Easters.”

‘Waiting and freezing’

Jeremiah’s mother, Debbie Thetford, and his aunt, Jeni Thetford, also had memories of “waiting outside at the gate and freezing” before the 7 a.m. start.

Josh Baldwin, 9, made up for missing breakfast by eating two of the three eggs he found, while Ryan Tepp, 6, redeemed his prize egg for a giant Easter basket.

Bennett Lewis, hunting with brother Ian and West Highland terrier, Ebi Enu, found a gold egg redeemable for a $2 bill.

But his dad, Kevin Lewis, and godmother Jennifer Foster, who walked with the boys from their home on Maple Street, were after other game.

“We never found the egg with the coffee,” Foster said. “The coffee egg was elusive.”

Wharf service

There was hot coffee, sweet rolls and other treats at the 8 a.m. Resurrection Service downtown at Union Wharf at 8 a.m.

Sponsored by First Baptist Church of Port Townsend, the service, in its fifth year, is designed for people who want to celebrate Easter but are not regular church-goers, Pastor Skip Cadorette said.

Derek, Isaac and Kevin Rubio played drums for the service, which included Scripture reading and songs, including a sea chantey, “Sing Allelu.”

Maury Vezzolina, who attended the service, recalled how different the weather was last Easter.

“It was really cloudy, but just as Skip got up to address the flock, the clouds parted and the rays of sunshine came shining down,” Vezzolina said.

Afternoon egg hunt

The rain held off through the afternoon, when the American Legion egg hunt kicked off at 1 p.m.

The hunt, held at the Legion Park at the city entrance, attracted the Broussard family, which comes every year from Port Angeles, and the Allie family from Snoqualmie, in town to visit relatives.

Maureen Johnson brought her granddaughter, Desiree, 4, a veteran of the hunt, plus her grandson, Dustin, a first-timer at 5 months.

Caullin McLarney, 2 and Ryan McGregor, both grandchildren of hunt organizer Janet Emery, were successful at finding eggs, while Rachel Doan, 3, of Port Townsend was more interested in hugging the Easter bunny, played by Janet’s son, Austin.

Akaylia Morse, 2, the daughter of Linda Morse of Port Hadlock, enjoyed petting Molly, a white ferret belonging to Larry Grove and Lori Rice.

“We brought him because he looks like a white rabbit,” Grove said.

Two other services

Two dozen people got up for the 6 a.m. sunrise service at Pope Marine Park, led by Wendell Ankeny of Trinity United Methodist Church.

Unity held a service later in the morning at Fort Worden State Park.

The state park also offered an egg hunt and brunch at The Commons.

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