Best friends Madeline Mayo and Carina Stack, both 4, hugged each other in excitement as they waited in line for the egg hunt to start at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine on Saturday.
Wearing long white ears, Carina announced she was a bunny rabbit.
“She’s a bunny and a girl,” Madeline added.
The little girls, both of Portland, were among the 150 children and parents who spent an hour searching for 2,000 plastic candy-filled eggs among the exhibits at the popular Free Street institution. The egg hunt was one of hundreds of Easter events taking place this weekend, including traditional religious services, sunrise breakfasts and other traditions.
At the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine, children played in the exhibits while searching for eggs. Eggs were tucked inside the museum’s fire truck, hidden among the produce at the community market and nestled between the traps of the lobster boat.
“I see a purple one,” yelled Eleanor Shelton, 3 1/2, of Falmouth.
Polish Catholics took part Saturday in the blessing of the Easter baskets at St. Louis Church, the only Polish Catholic church in Maine. The blessing is a tradition among Polish Catholics, who fill the baskets with food such as eggs, which symbolize the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, and other items such as candies and wine. The food is eaten on Easter Sunday.
Congregants placed dozens of lace-lined baskets decorated with ribbons and sprigs of boxwood before the altar. The Rev. Zygmunt Ostrowski blessed them in English and Polish, gave them a sprinkling of holy water and gently reminded the children to eat the food before consuming any candy left by the Easter Bunny.
“I hope today and tomorrow will be filled with joy,” Ostrowski said.
The blessing is a tradition that some said they look forward to every year.
Pennie Radziucz Kimball of Cape Elizabeth said she was baptized in St. Louis Church and now brings her husband, Lee, of Irish descent, to the annual blessing. She decorates a basket that was made by her godfather and fills it with eggs, salt, bread, butter and meat.
“It’s the first thing we eat on Easter morning,” she said.
Emily Goepel, a Detroit native, said she had to search hard to find a church in Maine that observed the Polish ritual. She and her husband, Seth, daughter Emily, 3, and newborn son Ilya traveled from their Hebron home with a basket filled with meat, salt, cheese and religious icons.
“Where I grew up, every single year we did this,” Emily Goepel said.