Easter came a day early for the children of Denison and Sherman as both cities celebrated the holiday with events on Saturday. This followed events and community Easter egg hunts last weekend, and other celebrations of the holiday.
Several hundred visitors crowded the grounds of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Birthplace Historic Site for its annual egg scramble and egg rolls Saturday. This was the third time the staff at the birthplace have hosted the event since it was restarted in 2015.
“We do the egg roll, which is an actual race, but we like to kick things off with this,” Site Manager John Akers said.
For the egg hunt, more than 6,000 eggs were hidden across the lawns of the birthplace, similar to when President Eisenhower revived Easter Festivities at the White House in the 1950s following a lull due to World War II. Since then, egg rolls and egg hunts have been an ongoing tradition each year, Akers said.
“Dwight and Mimi Eisenhower restarted the tradition after World War II and that is our connection today with the event,” he said. “I think it was a tradition, they had grandkids, and they liked to entertain so they made the land available.”
The tradition tracks its origins to when children would roll their eggs across the U.S. Capital lawn in the 1880s. This led legislators to ban the practice as it was believed it would damage the grounds. In response, President Rutherford B. Hayes opened up the White House lawn to children on the holiday.
Last year, Akers said the event attracted about 700 visitors for the site and attributed the success to combining the event with the Texoma Kids Fest activities, which occurred throughout downtown Denison. Without this advertisement, Akers was uncertain how many would attend, but estimated it would still bring hundreds to the site.
Arnold’s Martial Arts in Sherman also celebrated the holiday when it held its community Easter celebration Saturday morning. For the past 15 years, the martial arts studio has held its annual event at the studio, but for this year’s festivities, organizers expanded the event and moved it to Lucy Kidd-Key Park. With this expansion, Martial Arts Instructor Rick Arnold said he hoped to grow the event from the normal 150 to 200 visitors to about 1,000.
“We like to say that it got so good we didn’t want to keep it to ourselves,” Arnold said.
Among the visitors to the Denison event were Ayden and Ashley Harris from Durant. Prior to Saturday’s festivities, Ashley Harris said she was unaware of the historic site and had difficulty initially finding it.
“We really found out about it from Facebook, as we’ve never really been out here much.” she said.
When asked about the historic site holding the event, Ashley Harris said she was happy to have something she and the children could do for free for the holiday.
“I think it is really cool,” she said. “Durant doesn’t have much going on, so I don’t mind travelling for something like this.”
Activities at the Sherman event included a bounce house, martial arts displays, live music, food giveaways and a petting zoo. Arnold said organizers wanted to stay away from the more secular themes of Easter and instead focus on the religious meaning of the holiday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Easter has little to do with Easter eggs and bunny rabbits,” he said. “Jesus was the real reason (for the holiday).”
Among those visiting the event in Sherman was Carol Meek and her granddaughter Rylie. Meek said she was looking for something that they could do together as her granddaughter visited over the holiday. During the events, Rylie won a three-legged race, much to her own surprise.
“I am surprised because I am shorter than most,” she said.