Celebrating 20 Years of the Easter Extravaganza

Every year Phyllis Brown holds her Easter Extravaganza, but this year’s event will be notable as it marks the 20th anniversary of her annual family gathering.

The celebration has been growing through the years and features food, fun and games for the kids and adults, and families getting together to have a good time. This year’s edition of the Easter celebration will be at Lake Maggiore Park at 1 p.m. this Sat., April 5.

“We have sack racing, hula hoop contests, some of the boys play football, we have ladies come out to make up faces and we have an Easter Bunny to come out,” Brown said, along with the ever-popular Easter egg hunt, of course.

The children are divided into age groups, Brown explained, and hunt around the park for the approximately 600 hidden eggs.

“A lot of kids get really into it, and every year they are excited about the event,” she stated.

A native of St. Pete, Brown depends mostly on her many family members to help out with the Extravaganza. For the cookout end of it, she provides all the meat and some of the items like baked beans and macaroni and cheese, and her family brings all other side dishes and drinks for the children. They had been providing the eggs as well, Brown said. But since this year marks a milestone anniversary of the event, Brown will bring all the colorful eggs herself.

“The thing about it is that when they all come together, it’s adults wanting to help with the games and everything,” she stated. “It’s just family fun time.”

Brown has relatives coming in from various cities for the annual occurrence, like Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, West Palm Beach and even Atlanta.

“I think this one is going to be a really big one,” she noted, “because everyone is saying, ‘Twenty years? I’ve got to be there!’ So it’s very exciting.”

The event, which is now held annually at spacious city parks, has modest beginnings. When her son was born, Brown explained, she started putting together cookouts, which were around Easter time.

“So I started hiding eggs and inviting family over and it became a once-a-year gathering at my mom’s house,” she said. “And then when I grew up and moved out, I started doing them at my home at 45th Street and 6th Avenue, and I would block off the street, get the moonwalk for the kids, the Port-A-Potties outside and we would gather underneath the big oak tree for the barbecue. It just grew from there.”

The event has become an enormous hit with the kids, said Brown, a dietary manager who is a single mother of two and a grandmother of three.

“All black kids don’t get a chance to color eggs,” Brown said. “I’m just going to be real. But once I started saying ‘let the kids color the eggs and bring them out,’ that was the biggest hit.”

The Easter Extravaganza has often been held at Dell Holmes Park as well as Lake Maggiore, which Brown explained, “has all the trees that we can hide the eggs behind.” There is more shade at Lake Maggiore, Brown added, where this year’s event will be.

Brown has a talent for bringing people together, as she often organizes other family outings and events, such as bowling or kickball, and will be hosting her family reunion in July. In her professional life, she also arranges many activities such as potluck dinners for her workmates.

“I guess it’s in my nature!” she admitted, laughing.

Brown added that her credo is simple: “Live life to the fullest because you never know. I believe in God first, family second and living life to the fullest.”

To reach Frank Drouzas, email fdrouzas@theweeklychallenger.com

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