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Mad scramble at Riverfront Park egg hunt

Ezra Buck lowered himself to the ground, crouched in a sprinter’s position, his gaze fixed ahead, ready to run when the countdown reached zero.

His eagerness was almost palpable.

Then the 7-year-old took off, making a mad dash to scoop up as many plastic, prize-filled Easter eggs as possible at the Easter Egg Hunt in Riverfront Park on Saturday.

At the annual event, which has taken place for 31 years, hundreds of children 11 and younger snatched up more than 7,000 Easter eggs in less than 10 seconds. Parents cheered as their children raced to fill their Easter baskets, their speed fueled by the promise of sugary rewards.

Most eggs contained candy, but some included prizes such as season passes to the park and tickets to the Imax theater.

Buck’s method for gathering the most eggs: “Find the big piles and run as fast as I can.”

“He’s just going to go wacko, basically,” said his “best bud,” James Trent, 7, of Spokane.

“Wild,” Buck added as he bounced around excitedly. “I can’t wait to start.”

The two said they might work together and split the bounty, because, Trent said, “sharing is good.”

After the hunt, the two sat on the grass and compared their take, eagerly opening each egg to see what treasure it held.

“That was so quick,” Buck said, somewhat disappointed in the number of eggs in his basket.

Trent, however, was happy with his own performance.

“I did awesome,” he said.

The large-scale egg hunt was put on by a team of volunteers and sponsors, including radio station KIX 96, which has organized it for 18 years.

Paul Neumann of KIX 96 said the station always looks for ways to give back to the community, and the egg hunt is one way to do that.

“We build our station around community service,” Neumann said. “This has been a great community. It’s our community. It’s our village. It’s our responsibility.”

Boy Scouts from Troop 22 also pitched in, clearing debris or trash before the event and putting up ropes to prevent the children from getting a head start on the hunt. Afterward, the Scouts helped clean up.

Troop 22 helps out every year, said Brad Christenson, assistant scoutmaster.

“That’s part of being a Boy Scout,” he said. “Helping other people out.”

And, he added, “It’s fun watching, as long as you don’t get run over by kids or their parents.”