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Old-time Easter fun, without the bonnet

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WATERTOWN — Bing Crosby crooned to Marjorie Reynolds about the Easter parade in the 1942 film “Holiday Inn.”

Contrary to the lyrics, however, there were no girls in their Easter bonnets Saturday at the Jefferson County Historical Society’s Easter parade.

“There’s not many wearing their Easter best this year,” event organizer Bonita L. Shafer said.

Sally C. Cornish is a retired teacher who read Easter bunny stories during the annual Eggstravaganza at the Paddock Mansion.

On how children and parents dressed for the holiday when she was a girl, Ms. Cornish said, “We’d have to wear hats, gloves; the boys would shine their shoes and the girls would wear skirts.”

But neither woman minded that many children came in jeans and sneakers.

“There’s more activities for them. ... They do more things than they used to,” Ms. Cornish said.

A total of 94 children, newborn to 10 years old, attended the two-hour event, about 20 more than the initial registration. It was almost more than volunteers had prepared for. The children made Easter egg wreaths, bunny magnets and paper bag baskets.

“The fun part is kids get to see a bit of history, too,” former museum Director William G. Wood said.

Edwin L. and Olive Paddock resided in the mansion until 1922, when it was bequeathed to the Historical Society.

However, no one could answer how the Paddocks spent the holiday at the turn of the 20th century.

“There isn’t anything here that we’ve been able to find that says how they celebrated any of their holidays,” Ms. Shafer said, but she noted that in those days, “parades were a big thing, and they dressed in their Easter finest.”

After all the activities wrapped up, children headed outside for the Easter parade and egg hunt.

“We have judges pick the finest dressed boy and girl in each age group,” Ms. Shafer said.

In the youngest group, winners were Tyler J. Ledford and Olivia Gowens. Ethan Christiansen and Eloise Johnson were best dressed in the 4-to-6 age group. But in the 7-to-10 group, judges had a hard time finding well-dressed boys. Ultimately, the awards went to Haley Christiansen and Julia R. Lewis.

Most children saw the parade only as a challenge to their main goal: the Easter egg hunt.

Following the parade, children from each age group filtered off into their own area of the mansion’s yard. A total of 748 eggs were hidden.

“We’re happy that it’s nice out and the egg hunt is outside, too,” said Jamie E. Montressor, who came with her children, Sasha E., 4, and Joseph J., 2.

Maxton F. Paranzino, 5, found the true joy of the hunt anticipating what was inside the plastic shells. “I wonder what’s inside them,” he said, peering into his paper bag Easter basket.

Mr. Wood said that egg hunts had been a long-standing tradition during the holiday, and Ms. Cornish remembered many years when hunts were held in Thompson Park.

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