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JBLM kids, dogs make splash hunting for eggs

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:14PM April 24th, 2014

Joint Base Lewis-McChord embraced this year’s soaking wet Easter weekend with two days of maximum, splashy fun.

About 200 children took part in the second annual Aquatic Easter Egg Hunt Saturday at McVeigh Sports and Fitness Center’s Kimbro Pool. The event was free, and wildly popular. Aquatics Director Jessica Rockhill said that all 200 spots were full three weeks before Easter.

Lifeguards tossed 480 plastic eggs into a pool for each group of 20 children. Staff weighted down some eggs with glass stones to make it a little more fun. Children waited at the edge of the wading or diving pools, then rushed in when staff gave the go-ahead.

Each child had a golf-ball bucket for scooping up eggs. Two special eggs contained laminated tickets good for an Easter gift basket filled with candy.

“This is where ‘Eye of the Tiger’ starts playing,’” said Spc. Jonathan Bangs, with 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He stood at the starting line with his son, Tyler Gombos, 5. “This is where champions are made.”

Bangs laughed, but Tyler was ready with a strategy he had tested earlier in his grandfather’s pool. When Rockhill gave the go-ahead, Tyler rushed into the pool and swept eggs bunched on the pool’s edges into his bucket.

Six-year-old Brayben Lowry was one of the lucky ones. One of his eggs contained a special ticket, netting him a basket full of goodies.

Brayben’s father, Tech Sgt. Shane Lowry, 62nd Maintenance Group, said Brayben knew the terrain because he and his brother Ty, 9, took swimming lessons at Kimbro.

The lessons appeared to have paid off.

“I like it underwater!” Brayben said.

Across the base, Chance the Great Dane also was underwater — the kind falling from the sky.

Not that Chance minded, as he galloped across an open field to tackle a ball as part of his pre-egg-hunt warm-up at the Spring Barbecue event at the Pet Brigade. Chance’s owner, Spc. Jennifer Helm, said it was a fun event, even with the rain.

Captain and Ranger thought so, too. They both itched to start dragging along owners Spc. David German and wife Lindsey as they sniffed out eggs that had been distributed earlier by volunteers.

“I’m interested to see how this works,” Lindsey German said as Captain, a beagle mix, whined. “He just wants to go play.”

The Germans wanted to get out of the house for the weekend, no matter the weather, and Lindsey said she liked that the Pet Brigade was holding pet-friendly events.

Donny, a 6-year-old chocolate Labrador, raced around as he prepared to find the treats hidden inside the eggs. Owner Lt. Col. Tim Pendergrass said he was glad for events such as that because it helped wear out the dog for the day.

Pet Brigade owner Regis Jackson said he was happy to put on the event, even with the wet weather.

“I’ve never known a dog who doesn’t like the rain,” he said.