Many children with allergies have never attended an Easter egg hunt, said Sonia Walker, co-owner of Nutphree's Bakery. The Mount Prospect bakery held its first food-free egg hunt Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Mount Prospect.
"We had to close advanced registration after only six hours due to the maximum of 100 kids signed up and we now have 100 more on a waiting list," Walker said.
The event got off to a jumping start as the Easter Bunny arrived and danced with the children to a recording of the "Chicken Dance" playing on a smartphone amplified through a megaphone held by Sonia Walker's husband and store co-owner Brian.
The 2,000 plastic, pastel-colored eggs were filled with stickers, children's tattoos, plastic rings and other small toys. They were spread over three small fields, one for each of three age groups. The hunts were started simultaneously.
Because no food items were at the egg hunt, "the fear of a food reaction is eliminated for the parents and children," regardless of the type of food allergy, said Walker.
Hailey Giarraffa, 3, of Buffalo Grove, wearing light blue sunglasses and rabbit ears, is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts and other food items.
She filled her yellow wooden basket decorated with white bunny rabbets with plastic eggs that she found under benches and rides in the church's playground area. Giarraffa's mom, Stacey, said she signed up as soon as heard about the event, knowing it would fill up fast.
Harper Kwan, 3, of Des Plaines, wearing a kangaroo costume, collected plenty of eggs and prizes after having her noise touched by the Easter Bunny for good luck just before the hunt started.
The bakery, which is nut free, last Halloween held a trade in for candy, offering cupcakes and small toys, with the candy going to troops overseas, said Sonia Walker.