When the skies turn blue, Mahomet residents often visit the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve to witness the first signs of spring.
But this spring, Lake of the Woods visitors found an unexpected surprise: 16 painted concrete eggs along paths and between trees throughout the preserve.
“We put eggs in Buffalo Trace to the far reaches of the park so you have to walk around the park to find them,” Lake of the Woods Assistant Superintendent Michael Dale said.
Dale, who has small children at home, came up with the idea to place eggs throughout the park during the mid-winter months. Originally, he was going to use large plastic eggs, but after thinking about how they might blow away or be stolen, he decided to pour concrete into the egg shells.
Once hardened, Lake of the Woods employees decorated the eggs with designs from the Minions Movie, Angry Birds, Emojis, Ninja Turtles and M&Ms, among others.
“We see a lot of people come in with their phones with the Pokemon game, and now there’s another game where they go to these pinned locations all over the park,” Dale said. “So I figured I could do something that’s not on your phone that would get you all over the park, exploring around.”
Visitors posting their egg sightings on social media has helped the Champaign County Forest Preserve District (CCFPD) draw attention to Lake of the Woods, even in chilly weather.
“We were at a legislative meeting, and one of the ladies I was sitting with from Savoy said, ‘Tell me about these eggs. I want to bring my grandchildren out.’ So there has been a lot of buzz about it and people are interested,” CCFPD Marketing Coordinator Lisa Sprinkle said.
Sprinkle also said the eggs are a great way to create a unique Easter Egg hunt experience for visitors.
“It’s nice to see people come out with their children and their grandchildren and spend some time at the park,” Sprinkle said.
The eggs will be spread throughout Lake of the Woods until March 30. The staff will then collect them and they will be on display at the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens throughout April.
Dale said they will be put away for summer, but CCFPD will continue to come up with ways to expand the hunt to additional preserves throughout Champaign County. The plan is for the eggs to become an annual event.