Pushy par­ents cited for egg hunt end

Or­ga­niz­ers can­cel event af­ter adults swarm field last year

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY P. SOLOMON BANDA

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. | Or­ga­niz­ers of an an­nual Easter egg hunt at­tended by hun­dreds of chil­dren have can­celed this year’s event, cit­ing the be­hav­ior of ag­gres­sive par­ents who swarmed into the tiny park last year, de­ter­mined that their chil­dren get an egg.

That hunt was over in sec­onds, to the con­ster­na­tion of egg­less tots and their par­ents. Too many par­ents had jumped a tape set up to al­low only chil­dren into Ban­croft Park in a his­toric area of Colorado Springs.

Or­ga­niz­ers say the event has out­grown its orig­i­nal in­tent of be­ing a neigh­bor­hood event.

Par­ent­ing ob­servers cite the can­cel­la­tion as a prime ex­am­ple of so-called “he­li­copter par­ents” those who hover over their chil­dren and are in­volved in ev­ery as­pect of their chil­dren’s lives — sports, school and, in­creas­ingly, work — to en­sure that they don’t fail, even at an Easter egg hunt.

“They couldn’t re­sist get­ting over the rope to help their kids,” said Ron Al­sop, a for­mer Wall Street Jour­nal re­porter and au­thor of “The Tro­phy Kids Grow Up,” which ex­am­ines the “mil­len­nial chil­dren” gen­er­a­tion. “That’s the per­fect metaphor for mil­len­nial chil­dren. [Par­ents] can’t stay out of their chil­dren’s lives. They don’t give their chil­dren enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mis­takes.”

Mr. Al­sop and oth­ers say the par­ent­ing phe­nom­e­non be­gan in earnest when baby boomers who dec­o­rated their cars with “Baby on Board” signs in the 1980s be­gan hav­ing chil­dren. It has prompted at least two New York com­pa­nies to es­tab­lish “take your par­ent to work day” for new re­cruits as par­ents re­main in­volved even af­ter their chil­dren be­come adults.

Last April’s egg hunt, spon­sored by the Old Colorado City As­so­ci­a­tion, at­tracted hun­dreds of par­ents and chil­dren and ex­pe­ri­enced a few tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties, said Mazie Baal­man, owner of Rocky Moun­tain Choco­late Fac­tory and spon­sor of the event.

There was no place to hide the plas­tic eggs, which were filled with do­nated candy or coupons re­deemable at nearby busi­nesses. So thou­sands of eggs were placed in plain view on the grass. A bull­horn to start the event mal­func­tioned, so Mrs. Baal­man, mas­ter of cer­e­monies, used a public ad­dress sys­tem that was hard to hear.

“So ev­ery­body thinks you said ‘Go,’ and ev­ery­body goes, and it’s over in sec­onds,” Mrs. Baal­man said. “If one par­ent gets in there, other par­ents say, ‘If one can get in we all can get in,’ and ev­ery­body goes.”

Lenny Watkins, who lives a block away from Ban­croft Park, took his friend’s then 4-year-old son to the hunt in 2009.

“I just re­mem­ber hav­ing a won­der­ful time, him with his Easter bas­ket” Mr. Wat­son said, adding that he can un­der­stand why a par­ent would step in. “You have all these eggs just ly­ing around, and par­ents help­ing out. You bet­ter be­lieve I’m go­ing to help my kid get one of those eggs.”

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