Mville parks offer spooky egg hunt

Travis Pike of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Department works on the bridge over Allen Creek in Jennings Memorial Park earlier this month. -
Travis Pike of the Marysville Parks and Recreation Department works on the bridge over Allen Creek in Jennings Memorial Park earlier this month.
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MARYSVILLE The parks department here is aiming to offer a Halloween event for teens that falls somewhere between Barney and Jason.
Most events for children are too corny for teenagers, according to Dave Hall, athletic coordinator for the Marysville Parks and Recreation Department, who is in charge of the citys first Halloween Haunted Egg Hunt in Jennings Memorial Park on Oct. 30.
This isnt your little sisters egg hunt, Hall warned. Theres going to be some goons running around the park scaring them.
The hunt starts at 7 p.m., meaning it will be plenty dark and spooky. The $3 event is for youths ages 11 to 15 and will have them searching for eggs in the park and in the dark, with ghouls, ghosts and goblins to put the scare into the searchers.
Thats the unknown element for these kids, Hall said, adding that some of the eggs will have raffle tickets good for prizes.
Hall organized similar events at previous stints with parks departments in South Whidbey and Yakima. The former drew about 80 kids and the larger agricultural city had about 200 kids participating.
Its been a big hit, Hall said, noting the emphasis on offering something for pre-teens. Thats the age group that when it comes to Halloween has been left out. It gives them something to do.
Teens can be a little jaded and offerings have to challenge them but still be safe and in good taste; Hall said after some initial qualms word got out among the Clearasil set that it wasnt a dorky event and business picked up.
In both places my attendance doubled.
The cost is $3 and the department is asking people to register in advance at department headquarters in Jennings Park, 6915 Armar Road in Marysville, by Oct. 27. For more information, people can call the department at 360-363-8400.
Hall knows that many kids wont make that deadline for pre-registering and urges them to show up anyway. They wont be turned away, but the department would like to have as accurate a headcount as possible to plan for staffing and prizes.
We want the kids to wear their
Halloween costumes and bring their flashlights, Hall said.
Backing off the background checks:
Parks and recreation departments statewide are breathing easier after the Washington State Patrol relented on a move to charge $10 for each background check conducted on program volunteers. The patrol has had the authority to charge a ten-spot to cover the costs of criminal checks required for just about anybody involved in, near or around kids and seniors. That included volunteer coaches and assistant coaches for basketball and soccer, Petting Zoo attendants, after school programs, and people working at the Baxter Senior Community Center. Even Scouts working on their Eagle Scout projects would have been affected. The department has volunteers of another kind, people sentenced to perform community Service by the courts who choose or are assigned to complete their service in the parks.
There are about 300 to 350 background checks processed in the department each year; but it gets worse: a separate check is required for each name a person has or has had, meaning some women would have faced double or triple the costs.
We have to check their married name and their maiden name, and if theres a divorce then its $30, explained department director Jim Ballew. Realistically it would have cost the programs a thousand dollars. That wasnt in the budget and it would have pushed us over the top.
It could have affected others: Tara Mizell is the departments recreation coordinator who would have to have separate checks for different functions; one for being a city employee, one for volleyball, serving in PTA and another for working with the school district.
Pending legislation has been proposed in the state House of Representatives to annul the fees or make other arrangements; in the mean time the patrol has backed off from charging for the checks through June of next year.
We fought it off and they are reviewing it, Ballew said.

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