BY BILL FREEHLING
Easter parties held for children were an annual tradition for many years in the early 20th century at the Stafford County home of Gari and Corinne Melchers.
On Saturday the tradition was revived with a twist at the Melcherses’ former home.
A “Beeping Easter Egg Hunt” for visually impaired and blind children and their families was held for the first time at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio at Belmont, now a National Historic Landmark in Falmouth.
Large plastic eggs emitting a beeping sound were placed on the lawn outside Belmont, allowing participants to locate the prizes using their ears. The children turned them in for traditional plastic eggs filled with candy.
Already familiar with the tradition of the Melcherses’ Easter parties, Belmont Education and Communications Manager Michelle Crow-Dolby read about beeping Easter egg hunts being held in other communities and thought it would be a good idea to host one locally.
She said the next-closest similar events are 60 miles away.
Crow-Dolby started looking for a place to buy the beeping eggs. She found some online, but they were a little pricey. She then heard about an organization called the International Association of Bomb Technicians and
Investigators, which is headquartered in Stafford.
For the past half-dozen years the IABTI has paid for a program that supplies the materials needed to build Easter eggs for hunts catering to visually impaired and blind children.
Local IABTI members wire the eggs to emit a beep that can be turned off with a switch. The organization sends out hundreds of eggs for the program across the United States every year.
Crow-Dolby received 30 free eggs for Saturday’s hunt. She just had to buy the 9-volt batteries that power the beeps.
Employees with A-T Solutions, a defense contractor with a large presence in Spotsylvania County, wired the eggs used Saturday.
Turnout for the special egg hunt was small, but Belmont officials think it will grow in future years as word gets out. The event also included tactile tours of the Melcherses’ former home, refreshments and other activities.
Crow-Dolby said the event was scheduled for the weekend after Easter to avoid any potential religious conflicts. She said the date may change next year.
The National Federation of the Blind was a partner in the event, and several area students volunteered to help.
The event at Belmont was among a busy slate of activities Saturday in the Fredericksburg area, a list that also included a multicultural fair at the University of Mary Washington and an Earth Day celebration at Old Mill Park. Belmont is holding an open house today.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org