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Easter Bunny hangs with children

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Easter Bunny welcomes drivers to the Smiley’s parking lot on Rice Street in Lihu‘e, where the Silva’s Ice Cream Truck and Kaua‘i Sweet truck were parked for walk-up treats Saturday evening.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    From left, Aliyah, Emme, Tony, Milo and Michelle Glaittli show off their egg findings Sunday after the first egg hunt shift at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center on Lawa‘i Road in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Easter Bunny discovers a trove of eggs Sunday during the egg hunt at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center on Lawa‘i Road in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Jackie Nielsen of the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center is swarmed by youthful Easter egg hunters during the release of one shift of hunters Sunday at the center’s meadow on Lawa‘i Road in Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kaua‘i Sailing Association members are on the water at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor during the group’s annual Easter egg hunt on the water Sunday.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i Sailing Association sailor focuses on grabbing a floating egg Sunday during the annual Easter egg hunt in the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i Sailing Association sailor goes airborne on a dive through the floating hula hoop that doubled the points on his Easter egg Sunday during the club’s annual Easter egg hunt in the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A Kaua‘i Sailing Association crew makes a sharp turn after corralling an egg Sunday while the other crew gets rid of a negative-number egg during the annual Easter egg hunt in the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor.

LIHU‘E — Rob Silva wanted to do something for the kids.

He said that while the Easter Bunny beckoned drivers on Rice Street from the back parking lot at Ace Housemart where Smiley’s is located.

Silva, of Silva’s Ice Cream Truck, partnered with Rick Pitts of Kaua‘i Sweet cotton candy and shave-ice truck to bring the Easter Bunny on the road, first to the parking area next to Leong’s Meat Market in Kapa‘a, then to the Smiley’s parking lot.

“I just wanted to do something for the kids,” Silva said, noting that many Easter Bunny appearances, and especially Easter egg hunts, were quashed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying health and safety guidelines.

Drivers were treated to a walk-up goodie bag of Easter treats and an opportunity to visit with the Easter Bunny in a time span far less than the 15-minute time officials say is needed for the virus to spread.

“That how I started the ice-cream truck,” Silva said. “Trying to do something for the kids after the pandemic shut down the schools and kept the kids in their neighborhoods, not being able to travel even to the store for snacks. When we drive into their neighborhood, the kids love us. They come running from all over when they hear the music.”

Silva’s Ice Cream Truck drives through neighborhoods around the island, its library of digitized, cheerful music announcing its arrival, said Tiana Pegeder, who rang up a bottle of li hing chamony from a customer.

Unbeknownist to him, Rick Pitts, a neighbor who lives just three houses down, was doing the same thing — working on Kaua‘i Cloud, a cotton-candy and shave-ice truck.

“Rob beat me,” said Rick, who operates Kaua‘i Cloud with his wife Jennifer. “We live just three houses from each other, and we didn’t know what each other was doing. Rob rolled out his truck, and a couple of days later, I had mine on the road.”

Over at the National Tropical Botanical Garden South Shore Visitor Center on Lawa‘i Road in Kukui‘ula, the Easter Bunny got to roll around the meadow Sunday morning, with no indication of possible rain showing in the Po‘ipu sky, perfect weather for an Easter egg hunt.

Keeping in line with pandemic health and safety guidelines, the hunt was executed in four shifts, with hunters needing to have an appointment to participate. This allowed for no large gatherings and ample room for social distancing, with egg hunters adjourning to socially-distant groups limited to their individual families following the hunt.

“The bunny should be here,” said Jackie Nielsen, NTBG visitor program manager. “The hunts go quickly. About 15 minutes after we start. The kids are fast, and there’s a special section for the younger ones.”

Appointments were fully booked, and volunteers from the Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i Charter School worked alongside NTBG staff to host the event.

“You have to support the event,” said David Adams, school director. “This is the way to connect to the community fabric.”

The egg hunt also heralds a change to the center’s closures from the pandemic, as Nielsen said NTBG will be hosting an aloha market with about 15 to 20 vendors offering locally-grown produce, crafts and more, starting on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the center.

Finally, taking advantage of the sunshine, the Easter Bunny took to the water at the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor as he sprinkled a chestful of colorful, floating plastic eggs containing points for Kaua‘i Sailing Association members to find atop their Toppers.

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