A prancing 4-year-old Chrissy Greenstreet tugged at the hand of her 79-year-old companion as she waited impatiently for the start of the annual Easter Egg Hunt for Blind Children, held yesterday at the Sylvan Theatre on the Washington Monument grounds.
Chrissy, a two-year veteran of the event, had a goal in mind. "I'm going to get 100 eggs this year," she vowed.
Her sighted companion, Mary Allen, had a goal of her own: "I just hope I can keep up with her."
About 50 volunteers, all current and retired employes of C&P Telephone, made sure that each of the 30 children found at least one of the large plastic eggs.
An electronic "beeper" was installed in each of the eggs to guide the blind or sight-impaired (legally blind) youngsters to them. Each egg was labeled in Braille with a reward amount for the finder.
At the sound of the starting whistle, volunteers and children dashed into the roped-off field where the white, silver and yellow plastic eggs chirped and burped.
"I found an egg," Chrissy yelled triumphantly as she scooped up her first one. It was marked for a 50-cent prize, and Chrissy traded in her egg for two quarters.
Chrissy and Allen were partners last year, when she managed to find five eggs.
"I looked for Mary this year," said Chrissy. "I knew she was here. I heard her voice and I found her hand."
Josh Nicolai, 2, found his first egg with the help of his mother Marcia Nicolai. But he wasn't interested in exchanging the silver egg for any amount of money. He preferred to explore his silver treasure with mouth and hands. With every chirp, he danced a few steps and then listened intently for the next electronic sound.
Six-year-old Theresa Halluns proudly displayed her egg as her mother photographed her. "It sounds like a bird," said Theresa as she held the egg to her ear. The she reconsidered. "I'd say it sounds like a strange bird."
The seventh annual egg hunt was sponsored by the Telephone Pioneers of America, an organization of telephone company employes with more than 18 years on the job, and the National Park Service.
Betty Williams, head of the volunteers, watched from the sidelines as the children searched for the eggs.
"Sunday I will make a big dinner and do up baskets for my children," Williams said. "But these kids are what's important. This is Easter for me."
Chrissy was getting tired after her fourth trip into the field for eggs. There were grass stains on the knees of her pink jumpsuit. Her shoulder-length brown hair was tangled. But she had collected eight eggs and made $5.
"This is my favorite day of the year," Chrissy announced to her mother Terri, grandmother and great-grandmother, who had cheered her on during the hunt.
"This is better than Christmas."