CRANBERRY TWP — Excited families streamed into Victory Family Church on Friday to enjoy the indoor and outdoor activities at the popular Eggstravaganza.
Offered as a free community outreach project each Good Friday, the event draws more than 6,000 people each year to the church's property on Victory Road off Route 19.
Inside the church, children enjoyed puppet shows, radio car racing, balloon artists, a soft-play room, face painting and photos with the Easter Bunny and other characters.
The Rev. John Spencer, an associate pastor at Victory Family Church, said the little girls favored the Princess Rooms, where 10 members of various Disney royalty generally spread enchantment and posed for pictures with their young admirers.
Because the Disney names could not be used for copyright purposes, little girls gazed in rapture at the Water, Tower, Arabian, Dream, Glass Slipper, Mermaid, Storybook and Snow princesses, among others.
The cartoon characters Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America high-fived young boys as they dashed from one venue to the next, as did Prayer Bear and Grape Ape.
Thor, otherwise known as Victory member Joey DiFalco, said he and his becostumed cohorts walked around and greeted young children and posed for pictures taken by mom and dad.
“There have been some scared kids, but mainly they say 'Hi,'” Joey said.
Outside, children helped themselves to one of 4,000 free goodie bags containing candy, small toys and a card including information on Victory's children's ministry.
Children of all ages could enjoy the six inflatable rides set up side-by-side on the east side of the church's parking lot, or partake of fare from a number of local restaurants that set up booths at Eggstravaganza alongside traditional festival wagons cooking up funnel cakes, corn dogs and cheese steaks. The food was the only feature of the Eggstravaganza for which parents were charged.
Two huge “egg fields” were roped off and covered with a smattering of the 90,000 colored, plastic, candy-stuffed eggs the church uses each year for the hunts, which continue throughout the day for various age groups.
Leah Dourlain, 6, was a fan of the soft-play room inside the church, which contains tubes to climb in, slides and a ball pit.
“I like the black slide because it's all dark and you can't see,” Leah said as she munched on a hot dog at an outdoor picnic table.
She also looked forward to Easter morning at her home in Ellwood City.
“We wake up and eat some candy and find Easter eggs,” Leah reported.
Heather Frazier of Prospect brought her four children, all 12 and under, to the Eggstravaganza.
“There's lots of activities for kids,” Heather said. “They have a really good time.”
She also appreciates the religious bent of the event.
“They bring the church aspect into it too, which is important.”
Bryanna Curry, 13, of Baden enjoyed the inflatable rides right alongside her younger counterparts. She comes to the event every year, rain or shine.
“I still sit on the Easter Bunny's lap,” Bryanna said.
Spencer said the church holds the event mainly for community outreach, but also welcomes anyone looking for a church home.
“We love kids,” Spencer said. “They are a huge part of our ministry.”