Seven-year-old Mason was so excited to see the Easter bunny and go back to Camp Anchor that he couldn't sleep Sunday night. The excitement trickled into Monday morning at the Town of Hempstead’s Easter event at Camp Anchor’s Recreation Center.
“Covid’s been so hard for everyone, but especially for our special kids,” Mason’s mother, Melinda Rodriguez said. “I’m just so glad that he had the opportunity to come here because everyone is accepted and it’s a very beautiful thing.”
The Town of Hempstead and Peter’s Clam Bar in Island Park collaborated to make the event possible, organizers said. The event gave about 25 kids the opportunity to walk up and greet the Easter bunny, who was behind a plexiglass wall, and take pictures while receiving a special gift basket filled with toys and candy.
The children were treated to an Easter egg hunt on a small turf area, while social distancing. They collected about 10 eggs each, filled with treats.
Butch Yamali, owner of Peter’s Clam Bar, said that with the pandemic setting everything back, he wanted to give the kids at Camp Anchor a sense of normalcy and joy. Yamali donated the easter eggs and baskets for the event.
“The children really suffered the most because they were used to activities and there’s nothing really out there,” Yamali said. “It brings out the best in people. People are smiling and it’s just a good way to start the season.”
Town Supervisor Don Clavin said the town worked with Dr. David Neubert, an emergency medicine physician in Point Lookout and town EMS to make sure the event would be Covid safe.
“The pandemic has affected so many people, but the Camp Anchor children are very very special kids and this has had such an effect on them,” Clavin said. “So we came up with this very unique idea to give them the joy to celebrate the holiday in a very safe manner.”
He hailed the event as a success and added that many parents were contacting him to attend and the town is considering holding another event soon. He added that even families that couldn't attend were happy to see the event take place, which he said was “rewarding” to them.
Town Councilman Chris Carini, whose district covers Lido Beach, echoed Clavin’s sentiments and said that the event meant a lot to both the town and the kids.
“The Town of Hempstead is very proud to be able to bring a socially distanced indoor event to the kids of Camp Anchor,” Carini said. “Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and as we continue to get vaccinated and things continue to open -- hopefully more events can begin to take place at Camp Anchor.”