Ever wonder how the Easter Bunny can cover so much ground in the month leading up to his big day with appearances at shopping malls, department stores, candy shops and breakfasts all across the country?
His secret to keeping so many children happy is having a well-trained team of official Easter Bunny helpers, he personally chooses to represent the Easter holiday on his behalf.
CHARLENE BUNNY: Bass Pro Shop — Portage, IN
Charlene Bunny has been greeting children, taking photos, dishing out hugs and candy for three years at Bass Pro Shop in Portage. “It gets really busy sometimes,” she said. “I remember last year on Good Friday we had well over 300 kids come by in a matter of a few hours because all the schools were off. The first year not too many people knew I was visiting at Bass Pro, but last year the word had gotten out and I saw a big increase in the number of children. I expect this year will be even busier.”
A free 4”x 6”photo with Charlene Bunny is given to every child who visits her, along with larger photo packages available for purchase. Each child also gets a bag of jelly beans.
For Charlene the best part of the job is seeing the smiles and getting the hugs. “I really love this job, because I am always cold in the winter months and it is snuggly warm being the bunny,” she added. Along with all the fur she has, much of the warmth comes from the love poured upon her by the children who visit each season. “I love seeing all the kids in line waving at you, smiling and laughing. You can see the excitement build as they get closer. I especially love seeing some of the same kids come back year after year.”
Visit Charlene at Bass Pro Shop (6425 Daniel Burnham Drive) in Portage from March 23 thru March 31: Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and weeknights from 6-8 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays only, Bass Pro has in-store Easter Egg Hunts at 1 p.m. for ages 2-10 years old; plus free Easter craft projects for kids from 1-4 p.m. More info: (219) 787-6800.
DAVID BUNNY: Albanese Confectionary – Merrillville, IN
“I’ve been the Bunny at Albanese for at least four years,” said David, who loves seeing the excitement of the kids as they pour into the store. “I keep hopping when I’m there I’ll tell you. We usually have 150 to 250 kids a day, so during the month I see well over a thousand kids.”
Because Albanese is renowned for their gummies, David Bunny hands out a small bag of them to every child who comes to get their photo taken by professional Chicago photographer, Joshua Albanese, son of the company’s owner. “Joshua takes great photos and parents can choose from a variety of packages,” said David.
While a big fan of the gummies, David Bunny confessed his favorite Easter treat is anything with the homemade chocolate from Albanese. Joshua agreed. “Our chocolate tastes better than normal store bought chocolate, and our mother still gives all of us kids an Albanese solid chocolate bunny every Easter. I’m turning 31 and I still look forward to that.”
Visit David Bunny at Albanese (5441 East Lincoln Hwy.) in Merrillville every Wednesday thru Saturday from 12 noon to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Discounts for Easter candy can be found at albanesecandy.com More info: (219) 947-3070.
LOUISE BUNNY: Historic Lake County Courthouse – Crown Point, IN
Louise Bunny is a seasoned pro and often pulls double Bunny duty, greeting children and breaking some eggs with folks at various “Breakfast with The Bunny” events.
"I will be back for my fifth year at the breakfast presented by the Portage Kiwanis Club on March 23 (9-11 a.m.) at Woodland Park (2100 Willowcreek Road).”
The Crossroads breakfast will feature door prize raffles, children’s games, face painting, an Easter Egg Hunt on the Courthouse lawn and a photo opportunity with the Bunny for those who bring their own cameras. Tickets are $5 in advance/$8 at door. Infants a year and under are free.
“These are both fun events for the whole family,” said Louise, adding that for the Kiwanis breakfast a photographer will be on hand to snap an Easter memory and a free photo for each family will be available for pick up at the local Walgreens. “The Kiwanis breakfast raises funds for scholarships for graduating Portage high school students,” noted Louise, whose favorite Easter treat is any form of real chocolate.
Sometimes a child is afraid of the big bunny. In those cases, Louise often puts her paws over her own face and acts sad the little one is scared. Other times, she will interact first with the parents in hopes the child realizes the Bunny is not someone to fear. “Sometimes the parent sits with me and holds the child and we get the photo taken that way,” she concluded.
For costs and more information on the Crossroads Chamber Breakfast, call (219) 769-8180. More on the Kiwanis Club Breakfast call (219) 781-3295.
OTHER AREA BUNNY VISITS…
Westfield Southlake Mall has the Bunny visiting in the lower level, outside of Sears during regular mall hours and photos options are available. The mall also hosts its annual Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, March 30 (12-4 p.m.), with assorted other family-friendly activities like face-painting, story-telling sessions, and more. Info: (219) 738-2265 or westfield.com/southlake.
On March 23, families are invited to “Hop the Bunny Train” at The Chicago French Market (13 N. Clinton Street) in Chicago. This diverse group of local vendors in this Euro-inspired market make the most of Easter with free train rides around the market (11am-1:30 p.m.), an Easter Egg Hunt (1:30 p.m.), market wide tastings, and a chance to visit and get photos with their Bunny. There is even complimentary garage parking with market purchases of $20 or more. More: chicagofrenchmarket.com
The Hobart Jaycees welcome their Bunny to Festival Park (111 E. Old Ridge Rd) in Hobart at 10:30 a.m. for photo opportunities with kids 12 and under, plus an Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. and door prize raffles. More: (219) 902-4126.
The Bunny jumps over to the Holy Name Church’s gymnasium (13209 Schneider St.) for the Cedar Lake Kiwanis “Breakfast with The Easter Bunny” from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Photos opportunities with the Bunny, plus free gifts for the first 100 children, games, a calk walk, and other activities will be provided by the Hanover Central Key Club throughout the morning. More: (219) 374-4444.
An animated Bunny will be the star at the Munster branch (8701 Calumet Ave.) of the Lake County Library on Friday, March 29 for their Family Movie Break at 2 p.m. “Hop” is a cartoon film (Rated PG) about a guy named Fred who accidently injures the Easter Bunny and must take him in while he recovers only to discover he is quite the house guest. Free admission. More: (219) 836-8450.