Trampling, trauma, stolen eggs and broken Easter baskets – these were some of the scenes, attendees said, at an annual egg hunt hosted Saturday at the PEZ visitors center, in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant and NBC Connecticut report.
PEZ staff said the “mess” was created after some among the 1,000 attendees ignored instructions on participating in the hunt, in Orange, according to the Courant.
The hunt covered three fields, with almost 10,000 eggs hidden throughout and staggered start times planned for different age groups, according to NBC Connecticut.
“Unfortunately people chose to enter the first field prior to anyone from PEZ staff starting the activity. The crowd moved to the second field, waited for only a couple of minutes and proceeded to rush the field without being directed to do so and before the posted start time,” the company said on Facebook, according to the Courant.
“Due to the actions of a few, the good intent quickly turned into a mess. I would like to sincerely apologize to each of our guests, this was not something created to frustrate or make people angry,” the company said.
(PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach PEZ representatives for comment.)
“My grandson ended up with a bloody from an ADULT in the 9-12 year old section knocking into him!!!! Where was PEZ personnel?? Where was the safety of our children in your thought process?? And to make matters worse, how about almost getting hit by a vehicle leaving your property, which had parked in your lot and was leaving, in very close proximity to the ‘egghunt’ field”?” Jennifer Barden-Moore wrote, according to NBC Connecticut.
“This event was a joke to put it mildly,” Susan Kristie Nandori DeRosa wrote on Facebook, according to the Courant. “We have a 3- year-old. The parents first of all were letting their uncontrolled children pick up eggs prior to the start. Then when the event started all the parents rushed in and [were] picking up the eggs.”
John Walters wrote, according to the paper, “Your Easter egg hunt is an extremely nice thing to do however, it was completely unorganized, times posted were not kept, parents took from small children. I feel this needs to be addressed by management to the employees left in charge.”
Others were more sympathetic.
“Thank you PEZ for [trying] desperately to keep order in a sad adult situation. It is such a pleasure to come visit today, the human greed took over,” Sandra Laviana-Aitken wrote on Facebook, according to the Courant. “People forget what it is like to be nice and patient and share all things they obviously [were] not teaching their children.”
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One woman said her son was “traumatized” by the event, according to WFSB.
“When my son left, he had a broken basket and he was hysterically crying,” Nicole Welch said.
Children were trampled, she told the station.
PEZ said in a statement that it tried to make sure everyone got something before leaving, according to WFSB:
“We sincerely tried our best to create a fun, free activity for everyone to enjoy. We made efforts to get everyone something before they left and passed out tons of candy and coupons and the front entry and tried to make the best of an unfortunate situation.”
“I take this personally. I don’t want this to be a reflection of the brand,” Shawn Peterson, the general manager of the visitors center, told NBC Connecticut. “It was a fun thing up until this point.”