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Easter Bonanza

Austin Ovalle, 2, finds the motherlode of Easter eggs behind a tree morning during the Warner’s Nursery annual Easter egg hunt in this 2016 file photo.

Covenant Church Arizona will host an Easter celebration at Flagstaff High School (FHS) April 7 complimented by bounce houses, live music, an Easter bunny, massive Easter egg hunt and a helicopter.

That’s right; a Guardian Air Transport helicopter will land at FHS and Pastor Landon Merrill, dressed as the Easter bunny, will exit the aircraft to announce the start of Easter egg hunt, as well as a short meet and greet. This will be the first time a helicopter is used at a Covenant Church Arizona event.

The original plan was to have empty, plastic Easter eggs dropped from the helicopter over the venue, but Guardian Air Business Development Manager Tony Carrozzino said that would not happen due to wind and the density of the eggs. The weight, density and possible winds made it difficult to predict where the eggs would actually land on the ground.

“We couldn’t guarantee the eggs wouldn’t cause projectiles to either fly out into the crowd or up into the engine of the aircraft,” Carrozzino said. “As a safety measure, that’s not something we could do.”

Carrozzino said there will be a total of four people in the helicopter when it lands: the pilot, the Easter bunny and two medical personnel. He said there will also be a fifth person on the ground with radio communication to the aircraft establishing a safe landing zone. The helicopter is expected to land at 1:30 p.m. and depart shortly after 2 p.m.

“If somebody is on the ground and sees a hazard or unsafe condition, they are able to make contact to abort the landing,” Carrozzino said.

Safety is the priority when using a helicopter, but Merrill also wants to make sure children attending have fun. Merrill said there will be between 6,000 and 7,000 Easter eggs scattered around FHS.

“We’re going to make sure that every kid gets a handful of eggs or more,” Merrill said. “The eggs will be empty and then they will go to our ‘eggs-change’ station and get their candy. When they do the ‘eggs-change,’ they will all get the same amount of candy.”

FHS principal Tony Cullen is a member of Covenant Church Arizona and was open to hosting the event at the high school. He said this event is a great opportunity to bring community members together.

“Any time we can provide an opportunity for kids and families to get together and celebrate things, that’s great,” Cullen said.

Merrill said using a helicopter this year is an experiment and he looks forward to including it in future events.

“Next year we’ll have the helicopter again and hopefully we’ll be able to throw the eggs out and have fun with that, but we will do this annually,” Merrill said.

The Easter egg drop event is scheduled for Sunday, April 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. Merrill said he expects approximately 2,000 to 3,000 attendees at the event.

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