BURNS HARBOR — Christian Grunder, 5, was so excited about participating in his first Easter egg hunt he had problems going to sleep, his mom Lori Grunder said.
Christian, who was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair with a personalized plate reading 2 Fast 4 U, was one of several youngsters taking part Saturday in the Spectacular Egg Hunt at Lakeland Park.
This year, for the first time, the egg hunt featured a separate special egg event for children with special needs including those who use wheelchairs or have mobility issues, those who are autistic and those who are blind or visually impaired, said Kim Burton, Burns Harbor park director.
"This is perfect. We jumped on the opportunity. ... The older he gets the more he wants to enjoy things with other children. This is definitely a plus," Grunder said.
Once the hunt was declared officially started, Christian had no problem propelling his child-size wheelchair to a spot on the park's basketball court to pick up the brightly colored plastic eggs.
"Go for the gold," several of Christian's family members shouted in encouragement.
Christian, along with other children in wheelchairs, were provided with poles to collect the magnetic eggs.
Juanita Good, of Portage, said she was pleased her grandson, Gage Taylor, 4, who also uses a wheelchair, was able to take part in his first Easter egg hunt.
"This is nice," Good said.
Burton said she arranged the special needs event after receiving a phone call from a parent of a special needs child who asked if they could take part in the hunt.
After telling the parent it was OK, Burton said she decided it would be a good idea to have an event more considerate of those with special needs.
"Since then I've done some extensive research and found out the closest event for special needs was in Ohio," Burton said.
Andrea Harris, of Portage, said she brought her son, Andre Harris, 12, who is autistic, and who has never participated in an Easter egg hunt prior to Saturday.
The park department hid eggs inside a small building to allow youngsters, like Andre, a quieter environment, Burton said.
"He seemed like he liked it," Andrea Harris said of her son's experience.
The prizes, including bunnies with Velcro ears for kids in wheelchairs and silly putty to calm autistic kids, were selected with special needs youngsters in mind, Burton said.