The Cotterell sisters, armed with masks, a cellphone flashlight and Hadley’s self-proclaimed “night vision,” clutched their bags as the countdown commenced.

In the moments before 8 p.m. on Friday, April 2, the sisters, Lucy, 11, and Hadley, 8, were planning their strategy for collecting the most eggs as they buzzed up and down the sideline of the fields at Butte Park ahead of the annual Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt.

“Over there they have more eggs spread out,” said Lucy, of one of the two fields of eggs. “Except they’re going to be picked up quicker because they’re not spread out as much as these are.”

More than 7,000 eggs dotted the soccer fields at Hermiston’s Butte Park distributed across a pair of roped-off sections as the Easter Bunny made its way around to take photos with families.

Emily Cotterell, the girls’ mother, said it was nice to be out at an event again after roughly a year of limited in-person events. Emily Cotterell said they had attended the event when Lucy was 3 or so but found it a bit too chaotic. She said she hoped this year’s event would prove a bit easier with the girls being older, and she hoped the pandemic would limit attendance further.

“We haven’t really been out in public for the last year,” Emily Cotterell said.

As the clock hit 8 p.m., the crowd of attendees descended on the field of eggs as the lights went dark. Across the fields, lights darted around in the darkness as children set about gathering the thousands of eggs spread across the park.

In a few short minutes, the hubbub had calmed and the fields lay barren of eggs as a few hopeful hunters scoured the ground in search of one or two that had been overlooked.

“It doesn’t take hardly any time at all,” said Diana Picard, a recreation coordinator with the city of Hermiston.

Picard said she has been helping out at the event for more than a decade and this year’s event came with a few added challenges as a result of the pandemic.

Picard said in years past the fields were divided up by age group to allow children to compete against kids their own age.

In an effort to minimize unnecessary contacts, Picard said this year they encouraged families to stick together with each other as much as possible.

“We just figured that was the safest way of going about it,” she said.

Picard said the event was put on by the Hermiston Parks and Recreation Department, and staff from the city’s pool were able to help supervise and place eggs for the event. In addition to the staff at the pool, Picard extended her thanks to Rogers Toyota of Hermiston for sponsoring the event.

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