ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Hopping to help

Arlene Nordeen's kindergarten class Thursday afternoon excitedly waited the arrival of you-know-who. He's big, furry and carries a basket full of eggs. "I'm happy that the Easter Bunny is coming because he will give me candy," said Erin Walpole. ...

Arlene Nordeen's kindergarten class Thursday afternoon excitedly waited the arrival of you-know-who.

He's big, furry and carries a basket full of eggs.

"I'm happy that the Easter Bunny is coming because he will give me candy," said Erin Walpole.

Others students agree, the Easter Bunny brings tasty candy and fun toys.

The students hopes had been dashed earlier that day when the first graders told them the bunny had already visited their class.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nordeen told the kindergartners the Easter Bunny only visits when it's quiet, so they'd have to behave, she said.

Finally, he arrives in the doorway.

For John Lange, showing up in classroom around Easter clad in a giant bunny suit is a tradition that teaches students how to give back to the community.

Soon Lange is surrounded by 20 Cathedral School kindergartners eying his basket full of Hershey's chocolate.

"What is the Easter Bunny's favorite food?" Lange asked.

Half the children's hands shoot up, as other's blurt out:

"Carrots."

"Candy."

ADVERTISEMENT

None hit on broccoli, the correct answer, but a few claim an affinity for the green vegetable after Lange lets it out.

Others assure the class they knew broccoli was the bunny's favorite.

"When he walks in the kids are just like 'Haaah,' it is so much fun," Nordeen said. "He always does a nice job. He does this on his own time. He's just a community person."

Her class of 20 is only a small percentage of those Lange visits each spring. This year, Lange met about 1,500 students from Northwestern, Four Corners, Lake Superior and Great Lakes elementary schools too. He also visits local stores during the week before Easter.

At some schools he visits each room with candy and advice about other healthy eating habits.

"Who likes to eat the ears off a chocolate rabbit first? Who likes to eat the feet off a chocolate rabbit first? Who likes to grab a hold of both ends and chew right off the tail?," Lange asks. "That's the way I like to eat it, but don't do it in the living room on the furniture, you'll drip chocolate all over and your Mommy will get mad."

At other schools he'll read Easter stories picked out by the school librarian. But the children always get candy, and Lange doesn't leave any school empty handed. At each school, students collect items and food for the Center Against Sexual and Domestic Assault.

"This is a family school, and when they do a project like this generally everyone pitches in," Nordeen said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cathedral School contributed about 400 items for CASDA.

In all, Lange collected about two truckloads of goods for the shelter.

He has been portraying the Easter Bunny visiting schools and stores for 10 years. In winter, Lange also visits school dressed as Santa Claus to collect donations and hand out candy canes.

"They're more excited at Christmas because there's more of a build up," Lange said. "Easter kind of sneaks up on you."

But from the laughter, smiles and questions the Easter Bunny's visit produce, it would be hard to imagine Ol' St. Nick being received with more welcome.

Eventually, Lange leaves each class with a wiggle of his bunny tail and a final word of advice.

"If you find an Easter egg in the toilet don't eat it because you know what, the Easter bunny never hides eggs in toilet," Lange said. "But some times the big brother or sister will do that just to fool you."

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

What To Read Next