WHEELING - It may be Easter Sunday but it was more like the parable of the loaves and fishes on Saturday.
At McMechen's Riverview Park, hundreds of excited children and their parents enjoyed an egg hunt with more than 3,000 candy eggs and a visit from the Easter Bunny and Sparky the Fire Dog. The two costumed characters arrived at the park on a firetruck supplied by the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department
The third annual afternoon egg hunt at the park was sponsored by the Woman's Club of McMechen in conjunction with the McMechen First Church of God. Dee Dziorney and Kelli Wolfe, members of the Woman's Club, said this year's event was expanded from more than just an egg hunt to other activities including a bouncing house, free food, face-painting and crafts. The turnout was overwhelming but everyone was expected to go home with something from the event, organizers said.
The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, blesses the Easter Fire at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling at the Saturday Easter Vigil celebration.
Photos by Heather Ziegler
Sparky the Fire Dog and the Easter Bunny are greeted with hugs from children taking part in an Easter egg hunt at Riverview Park in McMechen on Saturday.
The Rev. Darryl Cummings, left, helps volunteers unload groceries for the free Easter food giveaway at the Bethlehem Apostolic Church in North Wheeling on Saturday.
"We have a great turnout today and we couldn't have done this without so many people helping," Dziorney said. "We've had so much community support from individuals, Kohl's and Eighty-Four Lumber and so many others.
The McMechen Recreation Department provided hot dogs and drinks for the kids, too."
Members of the First Church of God were on hand to bring the message of Easter. They were signing up youngsters for vacation Bible school and handing out literature. Pastor Mitchel Johnston said he was pleased to be a part of the activities. "It shows the church is here for us. Today is about families and having a place to hang out together. We're so happy with how many are here."
An egg hunt Saturday morning at Bethlehem Community Park attracted children from throughout the community who collected more than 6,000 candy eggs in just minutes. The event was sponsored by the Bethlehem Chapel of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people turned out to receive food baskets at the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in North Wheeling. In North Wheeling, people lined up hours in advance of the 11 a.m. food giveaway with hope of receiving meat, fresh fruit and vegetables, desserts and more. The Rev. Darryl Cummings, pastor at the church, said he was hopeful no one would go away empty-handed and put his faith in a higher power to achieve that goal.
Volunteers from several local churches and service groups helped unload a truckload of food early Saturday morning as the sidewalk and streets became lined with people.
At the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling on Saturday night, the liturgy of the Easter Vigil was celebrated. The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, celebrated the Mass, beginning with the Easter Fire on the steps outside the church. He blessed the fire and prayed for new hope, leading the candlelight procession of the congregation into the church.
The ceremony was delayed briefly after a woman fell on the steps, striking her head. A Wheeling Fire Department ambulance was called and transported the woman to the hospital.