Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation holds an annual underwater egg hunt at one of their indoor pool facilities, Ray's Splash Planet. When looking for creative and active egg hunt ideas, I could not miss out on reaching out to the facility for more details. Luckily, Daniel Leatherman, a facility manager at Ray's Splash Planet was kind enough to answer a few questions about their event that took place on Thursday, April 13th. Check out our interview below to get some great ideas on how to incorporate a similar event in your community!
1. How did the idea for the underwater egg hunt come about?
Ray's Splash Planet is open year round, and through the years we have added multiple special events. Our main three events are Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. We like to embrace the fact that we are one of a few indoor water parks in the area, and try to incorporate a fun water aspect into all we do. This is evident with our Swim with Santa, Haunted Pool Deck tour, and of course the Underwater Egg Hunt.
2. What other activities do you offer at the hunt?
The main attraction is obviously the egg hunt, but we do offer a few other activities. A temporary tattoo station, coloring, and craft areas are staples at our special events. The Easter Bunny and the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation mascot, RAY will be making the rounds all night. The facility opens to participants at 6:00 pm and the hunts start at 6:30 pm. This year will be our very first ‘Duck Drop’ for adults. Each adult that stays until 7:30 pm will be assigned a number that corresponds to a rubber ducky, and we will race all the ducks down the slide and around the lazy river. Three winners will receive a prize basket.
3. What prizes are included in the eggs? Is there a mixture of floating and sunken eggs?
We use both floating and sinkable eggs at this event, and all of our eggs are empty. To make this program more cost-effective and sustainable, we have decided to have all kids trade in any eggs they find for a prize pack. The prize pack is an age appropriate goody bag similar to what you would see at a birthday party. This year we will have a special golden egg hidden for each hunt, and the finder will receive a special prize.
4. How do you staff this event?
All hands on deck. We have scheduled four full-time staff: Facility Manager, Pool Supervisor, Front Desk Supervisor, and Admin. Assistant. We have 10 dry part-time staff handling front of house including two cash registers, crafts, concession stand, and crowd control. We have around 20 wet part-time staff to include photographers, pool crowd control, traditional lifeguards, and characters.
5. How do you market this event to the public?
In the past we have had a live morning news crew on site, which is great - except for the tough part of recruiting kids to play in our pool at 6:00 am to advertise. Additionally, we do Facebook, targeted participant emails, a press release, and around 20 free online posts with blogs/event calendars.
6. Are there any notable challenges that occur when trying to plan an event like this?
Our pool area capacity is 555 people, and our goal is around 300-400 total people for this event. We would hate to turn away anyone, which is often not a factor with most outdoor hunts. Starting each egg hunt is also challenging - as one errant whistle by a lifeguard to stop a patron from running can set off an entire flock of 3-4 year old’s. Once the first kid commits, the hunt is on. Parking is a major challenge onsite. We have around 180 spots including our overflow lot, so parking can be tight when you factor in 34 staff plus 400 participants.
7. What has been the biggest success of this event?
This event is super fun. As with most egg hunts, the “hunt” only lasts 30 seconds, but it is an intense 30 seconds. We do allow the public to use the other parts of the pool (big slide, lap lane, lazy river) during hunts, and also encourage the craft areas and bunny pictures. The night is full of fun, and we have had great success with this annual program.
Special thanks to Daniel and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation for sharing their great event with us! If your department conducts any cool and active special events, I'd love to know about it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share.
Until next time,