09 hop in parkOn April 14, Epicenter Church will host an Easter celebration called Hop in the Park for the entire community. It will be held in Festival Park and will feature all sorts of fun activities for the entire family. “This is the fifth annual event, and we could not be more excited,” said Pastor Mark Knight. “Last year we had 25,000 people, and we are expecting even more this year. It includes giant Easter egg hunts, huge inflatables, carnival rides, a big screen movie, free food and a lot more,” Knight added. The food available will be pizza, popcorn, hotdogs, cotton candy and water. The food will be entirely free while supplies last. 

The main feature of Hop in the Park is the Easter egg hunt. The last two years there have been 20,000-25,000 people in attendance, so the hunt will be massive. In fact, organizers have tripled the amount of food and events since the inaugural event in 2013. “Thousands of empty eggs are spread out over a wide area for kids to find over a two-minute period and are then traded for bags full of candy. The eggs are then cycled back into future hunts. Since we do approximately 40-50 egg hunts between our two age groups (0-5 and 6-12), we estimate that we will cycle through well over 200,000 eggs,” Knight explained.

Organizing such a large event takes hours of planning and preparation. It is possible thanks to the hard work of church members and volunteers and the generosity of local businesses. “We need hundreds of volunteers to make this event run effectively.
Also, since we offer it completely free, we have to work pretty hard to raise the funds to pay for everything. It costs us over $80,000 and would cost much more without local businesses being willing to offer discounts to help us make things work,” Knight said.

Knight said all of this effort is worth it because of the joy it brings to the community. “We want to be known as a church that gives things away. We have a community service initiative called Ways 2 Love Fayetteville where we try to give away 20,000 hours of community service each year,” Knight explained. “Those two parts of who we are as a church, combined with how much we love to have fun and how important families are to us, made us want to do something BIG to celebrate Easter with the city. After a few other ideas, we landed on this one: A giant Easter festival where families from all over can come and have a great time!”

While the entire community is invited to attend, pre-registration is required because of the expected turnout. Attendees will be given “passports” to access the events and food as some are restricted to one per person. Only one person from each party is required to register. Parties can pre-register online in order to speed up the process on the day of the event. For more information or to pre-register, visit the event website at http://www.hopinthepark.com. 

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