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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

Liberty brightens the hearts of community children

By Sharon Space-Bamberger - reporter/photographer

Sharon Space-Bamberger | Democrat
“Salty” a Flemish Giant rabbit was a good sport about wearing bunny ears for a photo with a friend from the Working Together 4-H group.
LIBERTY — The giant Easter Bunny for Liberty's lively bunny events last Saturday was an Elk.
The Liberty Public Library, Liberty Parks and Recreation and Liberty Elks Lodge #1545 partnered to provide hours of free Easter related activities for youngsters ages newborn-8 years old. The Elks provided the giant Easter Bunny because they have a costume and an Elk willing to wear it.
Liberty Public Library originally planned to offer live rabbits, coloring crafts and read bunny tales. The reading plans were scrapped when the Working Together 4-H group of Cornell Cooperative Extension arrived.
The bunny raisers filled every available space in the children's room with live rabbits.
There were bunnies in cages, nestled on laps, on library tables, and cuddling with kids on the rug in the intended story reading area.
The rabbits included “Salty,” a beagle-sized Flemish Giant, kitten-sized Netherlands dwarfs, Holland Lops, rare grayish blue Lilacs and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, the Thrianta Reds.
Kyle Giminiani of Neversink, who owned many of the long-eared mammals, educated the crowd about raising rabbits. Noting the looks on little faces; he used the “meat” word only once.
On the Elementary School Softball Field a milling crowd of parents lined up with children to await the egg hunt.
Liberty Parks & Recreation staff distributed free raffle tickets for Easter Baskets and other prizes, and children had their faces painted to resemble bunnies.
Park Supervisor Kevin Delaney estimated there were approximately 250-300 children and added,” We put out 2,000 plastic eggs, they came pre-assembled with little treats in them.”
When the giant Easter Bunny arrived, excited kids ran to hug him as parents snapped photos. (The rabbit's voice sounded suspiciously like that of Elk member Ernie Feasel.)
At noon, thanks to an Elks National Foundation Beacon Grant (ENF), the Liberty Elks lodge held their annual Easter “Sp'Egg”tacular” event. They treated more than 200 children and their parents to a lunch of hot dogs donated by the Verona Country Stores, chicken nuggets, French fries, juice boxes and almost Oreos. As they entered the lodge, children received small Easter Baskets prepared by Elks' volunteers. Parents or guardians received tickets entitling them to framed photos of their children with the Easter Bunny.
Liberty High School Art Director Kathy Johansen and Liberty High School student Erica Clark snapped photos of each child or group of siblings in front of a colorful backdrop painted by Elks State Vice President Tania De Frank.
Students and other volunteers printed the photos for the parents. This, too, was free, courtesy of the Elks' ENF Beacon Grant.
Having more than enough Easter Baskets, the Elks donated 50 baskets to the Monday night “Soul Food Café” at the Liberty United Methodist Church, which provides a free community meal to those in need of food and fellowship.

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