The Little Ninja and I were down in Clearwater over Easter weekend visiting his Big Bro. I was feeling bad because I had planned on coloring eggs at home and hiding those plastic eggs full of goodies all around the yard for him to find. As I lay in bed in my hotel room on Friday night, I happened to see on the news that there was going to be an egg hunt at Coachman Park downtown. There were going to be thousands of eggs! (I actually thought I heard “25,000” but it was probably more like “5,000”)
Yippee! The Little Ninja was going to be thrilled!!
(I also thought it was going to be at noon on Saturday, but when we went over there the park was egg-empty, save for a handful of other idiots who also thought the thing was on Saturday.)
For those of you who don’t know it, Clearwater, Florida is the seat of L. Ron Hubbard’s pseudo-religion: Scientology. The headquarters is situated downtown, and when you drive through you can see members walking around. I used to live just south of there, and whenever I had to pass through I have to admit, I got pretty creeped out. I mean, you hear about members being stashed away in dark, roach-infested motel rooms and children being whisked away from their parents to spend their childhood working on farms in the middle of nowhere. And then there’s Katie Holmes, right?
Well, it’s still creepy. And Coachman Park is right downtown.
We got there early, since I figured there would be thousands of kids vying for the thousands of eggs. I was right. The park was packed. There was a giant slide and a little train and even pony rides. On the stage, a guy dressed up as Elvis Presley was lip-syncing to The King’s classics (his daughter, Lisa Marie, is a Scientologist). We walked around the cordoned egg area – so much for an “egg hunt,” the eggs were just thrown around on the ground – and found a place on the far side, just in front of a tent stocked full of L. Ron Hubbard books.
The Little Ninja got busy trying to spot a golden egg. We knew there had to be one out there because we saw The Bunny Tent, which had a sign that said to bring your golden egg (one per child) to receive a bunny. (I thought they were giving away real bunnies and I told Big Bro he was going to be getting it.) Stealthy as his namesake, The Little Ninja spotted one. It was hidden inside a larger egg that had come open a little. By the time the countdown started, six other kids had spotted it, too.
Elvis “sang” one last song and the countdown commenced. I told The Little Ninja to be sure and get me a Tootsie Roll. Seven kids ran for the big blue egg at once, but guess who got it? And that was even after scooping up a Tootsie Roll for his mom? Yep. The Little Ninja. (He’s the one in the dark blue shirt with neon green sneaker soles.)
It was like a candy war zone out there, kids running everywhere, stomping plastic eggs under their feet as they tried to find the 270 golden eggs. The Little Ninja went to retrieve his prize, which was fortunately not a real bunny.
As we were walking back to the car he opened a yellow plastic egg and there was a ticket inside that said
You have won an L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age Story. Go to the tent to collect.
The Little Ninja wasn’t interested in getting the book. Smart kid.
I have to say, although it’s nice that The Church of Scientology helped sponsor the event, I still find the whole thing incredibly creepy. It’s like they were recruiting little kids, on EASTER for God’s sake! And somehow I doubt any of the kids out there were Scientologists. After all, aren’t all those kids stashed away on a farm somewhere?