Annual Downtown Easter Egg Hunt set for March 23

Downtown Benton will host the 2013 Saline County Easter Egg hunt on Saturday, March 23, at the Saline County Courthouse.
Lisa Baldwin, coordinator of the event, noted that the hunt is a long-standing tradition, having taken place for more than 35 years.
However, she pointed out some changes that are being made "to better serve children and acquire additional volunteer help."
Chief among the changes is the date, Baldwin noted.
Normally held on the Saturday preceding Easter, this year's hunt will take place a week earlier, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Activities will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until noon.
"The reason for the change is to allow more churches to participate," Baldwin explained.
"It is also a good way to kick off Holy Week," she said.
She noted that at this time 10 churches and community organizations are scheduled to participate in the event.
She said these groups will host activities and provide special Easter treats on Sevier Street in front of the courthouse.
"Churches of all denominations are welcome to participate," she said.
Another change involves a designated activity for the youngest children, Baldwin said.
"A special area for children 4 and younger will be hosted by First United Methodist Church of Benton," she said.
"This will take place on the church lawn, located on Market Street across from the courthouse. The very youngest egg hunters can come any time throughout the event to find prize eggs and enjoy special activities in a secure location."
Traditional egg hunts will take place on the courthouse lawn for children 5-10, Baldwin said.
Children 5 to 7 will hunt at 10:30, and children 8-10 will hunt at 11 a.m.
"In the past we have held hunts for children up to 12 years old," Baldwin said, "but few older children attend the event. However, if any 11- and 12-year-olds come to hunt, they are welcome to join the 11 a.m. hunt."
Children should bring their own baskets, Baldwin noted.
"The hunt will include more than 12,000 eggs filled with a wide variety of prizes," she said.
Members of First Baptist Church of Benton have been collecting and filling most of the eggs for the hunt, she said.
Baldwin said the event will include some "special guests, including 'Peter Cottontail,' who will visit the youngest children on the lawn of First United Methodist Church. And his wife, 'Bunny,' will visit children inside the courthouse gazebo."
Baldwin encouraged parents to "bring their cameras to capture the moment."
She noted that volunteers from the Humane Society of Saline County will be at the gazebo to host a special petting area for children and bounce houses will be set up on Sevier Street.
All activities are free, Baldwin said. She pointed out that children must be accompanied by an adult.
Assisting with the project are the Boys & Girls Club of Saline County and the Golden 'K' Kiwanis Club.
"Both groups work to make the lives better for children of Saline County," Baldwin said. "For that reason once again there will be a cereal drive to help fight childhood hunger during the summer months."
She pointed out that donated cereal can be dropped off at a special location at the corner of Sevier and Market streets.
The cereal reportedly will be distributed to children who often go hungry during the summer months when they are not able to receive a school meal.
The cereal distribution will be handled through the Boys & Girls Club. Each person dropping off a box of cereal can register to win an Easter basket worth more than $100.
For more information or to participate in the Easter events, call Downtown Benton at 551-1100.