Archive for Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shawnee church takes Easter to new heights

The Easter Bunny drops eggs over a baseball field Saturday at Mid-America West Sports Complex in Shawnee. More than 10,000 eggs were dropped over four baseball fields in an event organized by Shawnee-based GracePoint Church. The person behind the bunny is Nate Wilson; the pilot is John Marstellar.

The Easter Bunny drops eggs over a baseball field Saturday at Mid-America West Sports Complex in Shawnee. More than 10,000 eggs were dropped over four baseball fields in an event organized by Shawnee-based GracePoint Church. The person behind the bunny is Nate Wilson; the pilot is John Marstellar.

April 4, 2010


The Easter Bunny found a unique way to deliver eggs this year, thanks to the help of a Shawnee church.

Rather than his hopping through a field to hide eggs, local egg-hunters found him flying to Shawnee on Saturday and dropping 10,000 eggs from above, with the aid of a helicopter. The aerial egg dispersal was part of GracePoint Church’s Helicopter Easter Egg Drop.

Several hundred egg-gatherers came to the event, which also included an area with six bounce houses for children, as well as other activities such as face-painting. GracePoint’s lead pastor, Dave Thornhill, said he got the idea from a friend at a church in Illinois and decided to borrow it for Shawnee.

It seemed like an easy option for the church, situated near Johnson County’s Mid-America West Sports Complex and Okun Fieldhouse. All Thornhill had to do was mention it to his congregation, and it took off from there.

“We have the space for it, and really everything’s been lining up real easy for us,” he said.

With the city of Shawnee canceling its egg hunt again this year from budget constraints, Thornhill said the church hoped to fill a void in the community.

“We do see a need for community events that are free,” he said. “We really want to be a community church.”

All of the materials necessary to put on the event were donated, so the church only had to provide about 50 volunteers to help organize and promote the event. In addition to donating eggs, candy and bounce houses, local businesses donated gift certificates or coupons to stuff in some eggs.

“When the community combines together, it’s real easy to pull something like this off,” Thornhill said.

“We haven’t had to lay out a penny for this; the community has responded overwhelmingly.”

Even arranging for a helicopter turned out to be a snap. After mentioning the event during church service, a member came forward with a contact for Timberview Helicopters, and the pilot had performed a similar type of helicopter drop for a church in Missouri in the past.

“It was actually one of the easiest parts to organize, and I thought it would be one of the hardest,” Thornhill said. “He had all the knowledge of how to pull this off, so that greased the wheels, so to speak.”

The field upon which the eggs were dropped was separated into areas for different age groups. The helicopter hovered around 40 feet for the egg dispersal, and egg hunters had to wait outside the field until the eggs landed. The plastic eggs were taped shut to help them survive the 40-foot fall.

The church advertised the event on Facebook, YouTube and in a few local newspapers, and volunteers even called about 1,500 households in the area to invite the community to the event.

The advertising certainly worked, as the baseball fields were full by the time the Easter Bunny dropped off his eggs, and they were gathered up very quickly.

“There were a few people that did not make it there in time, but we have saved some eggs back,” said Jessica Dupriest, office administrator for the church.

Dupriest said with the sunny weather, the day turned out perfectly, and the church is already thinking about doing it all again next Easter.

“We were exhilarated with excitement because we feel like we had about 3,000 people, and it was such a great community ministry,” she said. “Everybody had a great time — it was a great day, and I can’t be more exuberant about it.”


alm77 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow. I just can't believe this. All I can think about are the tons of other causes all this money could have gone to. Un-freaking-believable. Eggs, helicopters and men in bunny suits on the day that celebrates Jesus rising from the dead? Oh, my.

littlemisssunshine 7 years, 11 months ago

I think it is a shame how some of you only see the negative in this. Did you bother to look at their website and see that in addition to this they had 3 Easter worship services today including a sunrise service? Or take 5 minutes to understand that Pastor Thornhill is a wonderful man? I don't attend this church and I know him from my previous work as a funeral director and he is truly a man of God and takes pride in reaching out and helping those in need. I think this was an awesome way for the church to let the kids of Shawnee have a little fun on the Saturday before Easter. And also to get the word out about their church so more people can call it home and be there today to talk about the real meaning of Easter and be there every Sunday to take part in the fellowship and worship. You talk about hiding eggs and bunny suits being unbelievable on a day that is to celebrate Christ rising from the dead, what about Christmas gifts and lights and Santa? Do you partake in those activities that have nothing to do with the birth of Christ? Why not see this event as what it Things don't have to be so serious all the time.

tomatogrower 7 years, 11 months ago

I had visions of raw eggs being thrown from the helicopter. It reminded me of a show called WKRP. Their sales man had the idea of throwing live turkeys from a helicopter, not thinking that turkeys can't fly.

Larry Bauerle Jr. 7 years, 11 months ago

Tomatogrower, you beat me to it. I was wondering if they dropped chickens from the sky. That WKRP episode is classic!

denak 7 years, 11 months ago

Funny how some of the naysayers like to sneer at this Church's effort. Did you do anything? Would you have gotten off your high horse and helped this community put together a fun activity for these children?

It is a shame when some people are so caught up in their own bigotry that they can't even appreciate an act of kindness towards children.

But of course, saving all that money and minimizing one's carbon footprint is oh so much more important.

Dang children, who do they think they are anyway.


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