To the casual observer, it may have looked like a regular, crowded Friday night at the American Legion Post in downtown Canby. Until you noticed all the eggs.
Five thousand brightly colored Easter eggs are hard to hide — though this group of largely the same volunteers will try their best to do just that in a couple of weeks when the main event takes place at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds.
But on this night, the local chapter of the Sons of American Legion, which sponsors and organizes the annual egg hunt, and dozens of volunteers gathered at the Legion post to stuff with tiny toys and other trinkets — no candy.
“Back in the late ’80s, we were putting candy in the eggs,” said organizer Jim Mickelsen, whose mother, Jerry, managed the fairgrounds for 20 years before she passed away in 1990. “Until one year, my mom called me out to the field after the event, and it was just covered in candy wrappers. It took me five hours to clean up.”
Before that, when the hunt was coordinated by the Canby Jaycees some 50 years ago, volunteers had used 400 dozen (4,800) real eggs — hard-boiled and dyed. But that ultimately resulted in unpleasant consequences, too.
“There was one the kids didn’t find,” Mickelsen, who has been involved with the event for more than 35 of those years, recalled with a chuckle. “We found it at fair, four months later.”
For many years now, hunt organizers have kept to the safety of plastic eggs and plastic toys. Organizers have had to cancel it the past two years due to Covid restrictions, and are excited to bring the fun tradition back in 2022.
For many volunteers, including several local families that take part, the stuffing night is one of their annual traditions, a chance to come together, enjoy one of the Legion’s famous grilled hamburgers and serve their community.
But the real reward comes a few weeks later, when hundreds of kids gather with their baskets and bags and wait for the signal.
“It’s very rewarding — for about four minutes and then it’s all over with,” Mickelsen laughed. “Then, all that’s left is people thanking us for putting it on.”
The event will be held Saturday, April 16, at 11 a.m. sharp at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby, southwest rodeo entrance (yellow gate). There is no cost to participate and no registration required — but, due to the “blink and you’ll miss it” nature of the event, participants are encouraged to arrive early and bring their own containers.
Kids will be divided into different age groups and cordoned off into different areas of the hunting grounds. The event will be held rain or shine. All are welcome.
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