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Easter bunny lane a hopping place in Nevis

Highway 2 in Nevis became Easter Bunny lane Saturday as cars lined up to receive a friendly wave from the big furry guy, along with some toys and goodies handed out by volunteers with the Nevis Lions. There were also over 50 larger prizes for children who found numbered rocks hidden around town.

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Nevis Lions Cub volunteers Kamber and Aveyah Forbes, front, along with Barb Deery's great-niece Tyra Hibl, at back, wore their bunny ears as they got toys ready to give to children attending the drive-through Easter Bunny visit Saturday. Barb's daughter Andrea Aguirre helped the bunny distribute treats. (Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise)

The event was held in place of the traditional egg hunt due to COVID-19 restrictions that limit large gatherings. Barb Deery is the first vice president of the Nevis Lions and will take over as president this summer. She has been a Nevis resident for 11 years.

“I have several grandchildren who live all over,” she said. “I know how upset my granddaughter Madison Plan, who lives in the Cities, has been at times this past year. She missed her friends when they couldn’t be in school. I thought about all of the kids in our Nevis community who have been cooped up all winter. The Easter egg hunt has always been a big event in Nevis. And they’ve missed out on so many other events in the past year. I thought there must be a way we can provide them with a little fun and get them outside to do the rock and egg hunt, and for their efforts give them some activities that would be fun for their whole family with the prizes. Many families did the rock hunting together, and the prizes are something they can all enjoy together. It’s nice to be able to do something fun, even if it wasn’t the big egg hunt like in other years. It gets us out in the community and gives people in the community something to do.”

A labor of love

Deery started painting bright, colorful rocks about a month ago. Each rock had a number on the bottom so the child who found it would get a corresponding prize. She painted 150 rocks.

“The ones without numbers kids could keep,” she said. “I also painted and hid 125 decorative eggs.”

Those rocks were turned in Saturday to receive prizes that were secured from the rainy weather under the pavilion at Muskie Park.

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“We ended up with 55 big prizes,” she said. “There was corn hole, ladder toss, gift cards to bowling, yard dart, horseshoe games, croquet and badminton and even an Itasca State Park yearly pass with gift cards for bike rentals.”

The money for the prizes came from donations by area businesses.

“With COVID, things have been tough for some of these businesses, she said. “I said we would appreciate any amount that they could donate, and if they weren’t able to help this year we would totally understand.”

A total of about 25 businesses contributed cash. “Even the American Legion in Park Rapids donated,” she said. Donations totaled around $2,000.

All prizes had a common theme: encouraging families to be active together.

Each child also received a bag of Easter treats and those who came early also got prizes left over from last year including soccer balls and footballs.

“We had a lot of positive feedback,” she said. “People said it was nice to have the rocks hidden because it got kids out and about getting exercise and fresh air. I hid them all over town. I put some by the churches, by the school, by the restaurants and gas stations, the Wash Tub, the lumber yard, in the park, by the water tower and along the Heartland Trail. I really enjoyed doing it because with social distancing and being at home it kept me busy. I love to craft.”

Anyone with number rocks can still turn them in this week and claim their prize by emailing Deery at grannybarb13@aol.com.

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Youth can be Lion Cubs

The Nevis Lions Club has six cubs who volunteer at various community events, including Saturday’s Easter Bunny drive-by where they helped hand out prizes.

“It began when my granddaughter, Madison, who came up for the summer, asked if she could help the Lions with our summer events when she was 8 or 9,” Deery said. “This program encourages youth to volunteer in their communities. There is a packet for them to complete. Then they come to a meeting and give a little summary of why they want to be a Lions Cub. It’s a great way to teach children that volunteering in your community is a very important thing. If they enjoy it when they’re young, they’ll continue to do it when they’re older. We have found that unfortunately the generation between the young and the older have lost interest in volunteering. Our hope is that these youth will get to know their community and the importance of helping out and it will be a trickle down effect.”

Serving the community

The motto for the Lions is “We serve.” In a typical year, Lions members can be seen working at many events, such as Muskie Days, the pig races and the water ski shows. They also are known for their fish fries.

“Last year, we were only to have a couple of fundraisers because of COVID,” Deery said. “But we still made our local donations to the food shelf, Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army and the 12 service projects the Lions support for the blind, diabetes, kids with cancer. We collect pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House and glasses which are repurposed and given to those in need.”

The Nevis Lions Club currently has 35 members. Meetings are the second Thursday of each month at the Nevis Senior Center with social distancing and masks and on Zoom.

“We have a lot of snowbirds join on Zoom as well as those who don’t feel comfortable going to the senior center,” she said. “We have a lot of fun. We enjoy getting out and serving our community.”

Donations may be sent to Nevis Lions Club, PO Box 74, Nevis, MN, 56470.

Lions meatloaf dinner April 29

A free curbside community dinner with meatloaf as the main course will be held at the Nevis Senior Center starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29.

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“They will just drive up, open their trunk and tell us how many dinners they need,” Deery said.

“We’ll stick them in their trunk and off they go.”

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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