Eggzactly what we needed

Community members gathered on the day before Easter to celebrate and engage with their neighborhood

The National Community Church celebrates its 18th annual Easter Eggstravaganza event

*This story was originally handed in for an in-class assignment May 3, 2019.

For nearly two decades, the Easter Eggstravaganza event hosted has provided Washingtonians with a chance to come together to celebrate with massive easter egg hunts, music, dancing and a petting zoo at Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill.

Hosted by the National Community Church in Southeast Washington on Saturday, April 20, the event is much more than just a chance for families to come together: it’s about the stories. Volunteers were tasked not only with facilitating the various games and craft stations, but also to “spread joy” and make a difference in at least one participant’s day.

Joel Schmidgall, who lead the event at Lincoln Park, said that event started in 2001 with a community easter egg hunt that brought in around a hundred attendees. Now, they expect thousands of visitors, from church members to members of the community and even passersby who decide to stop in to enjoy the celebration.

“We feel a calling to bless,” said Schmidgall. “If people come together, if there are smiles on people’s faces, if neighbors are meeting neighbors … I think that’s our heart in this whole thing. We want to be unifiers, we want to be bridge builders.”

Schmidgall said that in a city like Washington, during times of intense national political polarization, it is important to collect stories. This aspect of the event is key for the pastor, who says that sharing stories and experiencing joy through giving back to their community is what makes Eggstravaganza meaningful to the community.

“Kids will come up to you and say “I just wanted to say thank you,” said Schmidgall. “Those are the moments when you realize: ‘okay, I’m making a small difference,’ and one of goals is just to make somebody’s day.”

Throughout the day, the Schmidgall took the time to speak to several individuals, both current and former members of his church. He emphasized that collecting stories is about getting to interact with his community, and to see growth and provide help when it is needed.

“An event like this opens up a door to step in and have an encouraging conversation with somebody,” said Schmidgall.

Before joining in the clean up, Schmidgall encouraged another volunteer to share her favorite story.”

Lincoln Park, where the event took place, is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington’s Ward 6.

Aside from being one of the sites hosting the annual Easter Eggstravanza, the park has a rich history.

Other Eggstravaganza celebrations were held throughout Washington and Virginia at Langdon Park, Springfield, Gainesville and Arlandria.

To see photos from the event, check out the Easter Eggstravaganza photo gallery and look at the National Community Church website. For more information on the event, check out Pastor Schmidgall’s full interview.

Author: Braeden Waddell

Hailing from Waldoboro, Maine, Braeden Waddell is a junior at American University studying Journalism and Latin American area studies. Waddell is an avid podcast listener, an aspirational chef, and a two-wheeled transportation enthusiast currently suffering a minor setback. His long-term career goal is to work as an investigative reporter for a podcast similar to Post Reports, Reveal, or In The Dark. His choice to attend American University was inspired by desperate need to leave his 5,000-person town in rural Maine and enjoy the benefits of modernity he lacked at home, such as a cable internet and being able to go to a grocery store without seeing upwards of five people from his high school. Fun fact: Waddell only learned to ride a bike 3 weeks ago. Fun fact 2: While Waddell loves to cook, he is less knowledgeable with the art of baking. He can only bake one thing: Banana Bread. But, it’s damn good banana bread.

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