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The City Journals

Massive crowd at Easter events elicit changes for planning

May 30, 2017 04:48PM ● By Cassie Goff

Parents try to keep track of their children at the Easter event, where the Easter Bunny had scattered over 40,000 prizes over the fields of the recreation center. (Dan Metcalf/ Cottonwood Heights City)

By Cassie Goff  |  [email protected] 
The Easter Bunny hit Cottonwood Heights hard this year. He delivered prizes to teens at a free skating event at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center (7500 South 2700 East) the night before Easter, and then covered the fields behind the recreation center the next morning with thousands of plastic eggs.
“The two events were overall extremely successful,” reported Events Coordinator Ann Eatchel during a weekly city council meeting. “We had perfect weather with spring breaks, so we had record numbers.”
Over 3,000 people attended these Easter events, which was about 1,000 more than previous years.
“It was amazing to see the huge turnout,” Eatchel said. “It was massive — tons and tons of people.”
Luckily, the event staff was prepared for the huge turnout. Eatchel had ordered over 40,000 prizes, some hidden within plastic eggs, some plainly visible.
“It’s amazing to me every year,” Councilman Tee Tyler said. “The amount of time it takes to get everything on the field, and how quickly it’s gone.”
The event was set up a little differently this year. Stand-up flags were used, which allowed for the different areas, designated by age, to be marked more noticeably.
“I thought the new flags were great,” Eatchel said. “It was a lot easier to figure things out, and there were less number of inquiries.”
There was a drawback to the flags though. “The kids couldn’t see them!” she said. Next year, they plan to reposition the flags so attendees can see them better.
As expected, because it happens every year, there were lots of lost children during the event, accompanied by panicked parents. Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore told Eatchel a quick story about how he witnessed a child becoming lost.
“He didn’t think he was lost, he just went to go play,” he laughed. “You don’t need a lost child table. You need a lost parent table.”
Luckily, some of the Cottonwood Heights police officers were there to assist with lost children. Over the past few years, the officers that were already on shift would help with the event.
“Next year, we might assign a couple to be there, in case there is a call,” Eatchel said. “If an armed robbery happens (somewhere else in the city) in the middle of the event, they can’t leave the city unprotected.”
An additional consideration for next year stems from parking problems that were experienced this year. Not only were there more people at the event, but there were also other activities scheduled through the recreation center that were on the same fields.  
“People were definitely parking out on the street,” Eatchel said. Next year, she plans to have better communication with the recreation center to make sure cross-scheduling doesn’t occur.
Still looking forward to next year, two major events happen around Easter weekend, so Eatchel expects “attendance will probably be down.”
The Easter Teen Event was held the night before at the recreation center’s ice rink. “The last couple years it had been dying out; the numbers had been low,” Eatchel said. This year, she changed her marketing tactic to try and target more of the high school kids. “That seemed to bring the numbers up,” she said. “We probably ended up with about 200 kids.”
 She also added some cash on the ice in an attempt to draw a bigger crowd. Specifically, she had six roles of quarters and 15 one-dollar bills spread out on the ice, along with other prizes.
However, no one thought about metal reacting with ice until it was too late. As volunteers dropped the quarters onto the ice, they froze almost instantly, and became one with the ice rink.
“Nobody knew they were sticking on the ice!” Eatchel exclaimed. “They melted in pretty quickly. The skate guards had to get a spike to get them out.”
“Next year, you will have to stick them in the freezer,” City Manager John Park said, laughing.
All in all, Eatchel was pleased with the two Easter events. “I think they were perfect events,” she said.