Children trade in real eggs for admission to the former movie theater in Paola during the 1960s. The American Legion Miami Post 156 Easter Egg Hunt began 90 years ago and has been a prototype for similar egg hunts across the state.

PAOLA — An annual spring tradition in Paola will continue Saturday, April 3, with the 89th Miami Post 156 American Legion Easter Egg Hunt.

This will be the 90th year for the hunt, which began in 1931. Last year was supposed to be the 89th hunt, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It marked the event’s first cancellation during its 90-year history.

This year’s hunt will begin at 2 p.m. at the American Legion building, located at 5 W. Delaware St. In the event of rain, there will a drive-through prize pickup, but a child of appropriate age must be in the vehicle, according to a Legion news release.

The egg hunt is open to all children up to fourth grade. Participants are asked to bring a sack or basket to collect plastic eggs. The eggs can be turned in at the Legion to pick up a sack of treats, according to the release.

After parking, families are asked to proceed to the batting cages by the ballfield for further instruction. Eggs will be scattered around the baseball fields.

Attendees are asked to not use parking areas in neighboring businesses or block their drives, according to the release.

Masks will be required inside the Legion building, and social distancing is encouraged, according to the release.

The egg hunt has evolved over the years. In the beginning, fresh eggs were boiled and colored by Legionnaires. They were marked with sponsors’ names, and the eggs had to be returned to the sponsors to obtain prizes.

A children’s picture show at a local theater preceded the hunt in the morning, and admission was two raw eggs, which were used to offset the cost of obtaining eggs for the event. The closing of Paola’s movie theaters ended that feature of the Legion’s hunt.

Times changed, and real eggs were replaced by the plastic ones. Fewer businesses remained open Saturday or Saturday afternoon, so the central location of the Legion Post is now used to exchange the eggs.

The Miami Post 156 Easter Egg Hunt has been the prototype for many Legion and community egg hunts throughout Kansas. The framework of the 1931 egg hunt has been copied and spread to many other states.

Senior Managing Editor Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.

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