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Burbank City Council restores Easter egg hunt

But parks official says the move will jeopardize other department activities.

March 15, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

After last year's hiatus due to budget cuts, the Easter Egg-Stravaganza is returning to Burbank this month, despite concerns from city officials that time and funding constraints could compromise the quality of the event.

Noting that the holiday celebration has been “overwhelmingly well-received” in the past, the Burbank City Council Tuesday pushed for its rebirth and expressed confidence that officials could pull off a scaled-back version in just two weeks. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m., March 30.

Two years ago, roughly 1,600 parents and children flocked to McCambridge Park for egg hunts, carnival games and visits with the Easter Bunny, leaving the city's tab at roughly $14,000.

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At last week's council meeting, longtime resident Mike Nolan, clutching a basket of plastic eggs, criticized the city for cutting the event, which prompted the Council to stick the discussion onto Tuesday's agenda.

The City Council agreed in a 4-1 vote to set aside roughly $8,000 to fund a scaled-down event.

“It's not a heavy-duty event, it's just sort of like a fun event,” Councilman David Gordon said. “The kids — they just love that stuff.”

Councilman Gary Bric, the lone voice of dissent, called the move fiscally irresponsible.

“It's not in the budget,” Bric said. “We have to stand up and be able to say, ‘I wish we could do it, but we can't.'”

City staff, tasked with planning and executing the Egg-Stravaganza, said materials will be more expensive and attracting volunteers could be difficult for a last-minute event.

“We've been asked to manage our budget as efficiently as possible,” said Judie Wilke, director of park, recreation and community services. “To ask us to take on something we didn't plan to do is going to jeopardize something else.”

Plus, the egg hunt has “lost its Burbank flavor” in recent years because many families from neighboring communities attend, Wilke said.

But council members thought the city could corral enough volunteers to lessen the burden on city staff.

“We always pride ourselves on our community members stepping up,” Gordon said.

This year's Egg-Stravaganza will feature egg hunts and the Easter Bunny, but as part of scaling back, prizes for games and goody bags for the children will be missing, Wilke said Wednesday.

Though trimmed back, having any event is better than nothing, Mayor Dave Golonski said.

“The difference in quality of having a scaled-down event and having no event at all is pretty dramatic,” Golonski said.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter @atchek.

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