But some parents ignored the rules, and the event took an ugly turn.
Nicole Welch told WFSB that those parents “bum-rushed” the area, leaving her 4-year-old son “traumatized” and “hysterically crying.”
“Somebody pushed me over and take my eggs,” Vincent Welch, 4, told NBC Connecticut after the event, “and it’s very rude of them and they broke my bucket.”
PEZ said that based on participation in the free event the past two years, organizers prepared for a large crowd, but “the number of families that came out to participate far exceeded anything we could have possibly planned for.”
“Unfortunately people chose to enter the first field prior to anyone from PEZ staff starting the activity,” the company said in a statement to WFSB. “The crowd moved to the 2nd field, waited for only a couple of minutes and proceeded to rush the field without being directed to do so and before the posted start time. The crowd then immediately moved to the 3rd field and took over and removed everything well before the activity was to even start.”
After the incident, many people took to social media to express their concerns and called out the company for what they considered a “poorly planned” event.
“Way to crush a kids day with your Easter egg hunt today,” one Facebook user wrote on PEZ’s page.
Others passed blame on misbehaving parents.
“It’s so sad that it was ruined by adults who didn’t listen,” one wrote, “and then can’t take responsibility for their actions.”
Another added: “For people to blame PEZ for participants’ poor behavior is ridiculous and in the same mind as the spoiled adults who ruined the event for civilized people who came to enjoy the holiday — including PEZ and their employees who were away from family on the holiday to provide a nice experience for others.”
One Facebook user called the parents “bullies” who “could not keep themselves under control.”
“Shame on that parent that broke the little boy’s bucket causing him to lose the few eggs he had, that someone else then picked up,” another Facebook her, Lisa Stahl, wrote online. “Shame on the person that bloodied another child’s nose and to those of you that hogged all the eggs for your own kids.”
PEZ said staff members tried to locate participants who were cheated and give them candy.
“We sincerely tried our best to create a fun, free activity for everyone to enjoy,” the company said in a statement to WFSB-TV. “We made efforts to get everyone something before they left and passed out tons of candy and coupons and the front entry and tried to make the best of an unfortunate situation.
“Due to the actions of a few, the good intent quickly turned into a mess.”
Nikki Grasson, who was there with her 10-month-old son and her 4-year-old nephew, told the Connecticut Post that she was surprised by the parents’ behavior.
“I don’t even understand why the parents rushed the field like that,” she told the newspaper. “People are, like, crazy.”