- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

ATLANTA (AP) — Just one egg, made of shiny pink plastic with a prize inside, is a treat for a tot. Add 299,999 more and that’s a record of worldwide proportions.

This year, Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta — best known for its Mount Rushmore-like relief of Confederate heroes Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in the namesake granite mountain — is going for a Guinness World Record egg hunt.

A week before Easter Sunday, on April 9, the privately run park’s organizers plan to hide 300,000 plastic eggs with candy or prizes inside, including tickets for free DVDs or park activities.

Although the park has not had an Easter egg hunt in several years, and never one of this magnitude, planners expect thousands of children to attend.

In doing so, organizers are setting the stage for an extraordinary competition for years to come. The reigning world-record holder, the Rockford (Ill.) Park District, already is planning an even bigger egg hunt in 2007. Last Easter, Rockford set the mark with 292,686 eggs.

“We’re always up for a good challenge,” said Tim Dimke, chief operating officer for the park district, located about 75 miles west of Chicago. “We’re already potentially making plans for 2007. It would be premature to speculate, so it could be big.”

And Stone Mountain is showing no sign of budging from a burgeoning egg race.

“Obviously if this is that big of a hit, this may be an annual event for Atlanta, so we may have to up our eggs, too,” said Christine Parker, Stone Mountain Park spokeswoman.

Yet records — especially Guinness World Records — are made to be broken, says Stuart Claxton, a Guinness record researcher based in New York. If successful, the Stone Mountain hunt will be the sixth time a new egg-hunt record has been made since 1984.

The northeast Georgia town of Homer is among the earliest to hold the world record for an Easter-egg hunt — 80,000 eggs, listed in the 1985 Guinness Book of World Records.

That event in the small town of 950 persons is an Easter Sunday tradition that’s lasted 47 years, said Sandra Garrison, whose family throws the egg hunt each year and draws about 5,000 egg hunters, children and adults.

Even though it no longer holds the record, Homer has long touted its annual hunt as the world’s largest.

“We would love to continue to hold the title but everybody’s out there to break a record,” Miss Garrison said.

Stone Mountain is no stranger to records. The park holds claim to several non-Guinness records — the world’s largest piece of exposed granite, the world’s largest high-relief carving, and the largest laser-light show, in terms of the show’s more than 1 million-square-foot projection area.

As a result, planners said one more superlative would fit perfectly. It also helps that a company promoting a new DVD about Peter Cottontail wanted to partner with the world-record attempt.

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