For the first time in more than 20 years, someone other than the Rev. Don Mason will be leading the annual sunrise service at Walden Lake’s community park.
Mason retired last year as pastor of Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Plant City. But he asked Robert P. Herrin, pastor of Plant City Church of God, to take on the honors.
Herrin said he was delighted.
"It's a beautiful place to have a service, with the sun rising over the lake," he said.
Herrin plans to deliver an Easter message and his church choir will sing. Worshippers are welcome to dress casually, and some drive golf carts to the service, which will start at 7:30 a.m. at the park, off Timberlane Drive, west of Alexander Street.
Organizers will bring about 200 folding chairs but worshippers may want to bring lawn chairs in case there isn't enough seating to go around.
The community sunrise service is just one of many events locally marking Easter.
Here's a list of some of the others:
Children 3 to 11 years old will hunt in age groups. About 800 children are expected.
“It’s the biggest event of the year for us, except for the July 4 celebration,” said Tim Hanlon, special events coordinator for the department.
The eggs include golden ones that are good for special prizes, he said.
Children need to bring their own baskets and the only adults allowed in the egg hunt area are department employees and volunteers.
Each child 12 and younger will receive a free drink and hot dog, he said.
The activities don’t end with the egg hunt, Hanlon said. Food and drinks are available for purchase by all ages, and photos with the Easter bunny will cost $5. Other activities planned for a nominal fee include inflatable spacewalks, trackless train and more.
For information, call the recreation and parks department at (813) 659-4200 or go to www.plantcitygov.com and follow the links for the department and its Easter egg hunt.
Children up to fifth grade will search for the eggs in age groups. Other activities include a moon bounce obstacle course, clowns, balloons, face painting and more. Children will receive a free hot dog, chips and drink.
The event is free for children and there will be a drawing for prizes.
The Rev. Bill Bender, pastor for children and families at First Baptist, said he expects upwards of 2,000 children, plus family members.
“We’ve increased every year in attendance,” said Bender, who added that children don’t have to be church members, as First Baptist considers it a service to the community.
For information, call the church at (813) 752-4104, or go to www.fbcpc.com.
Activities include entertainment, refreshments, groceries for needy families and prizes in such categories as best-dressed girl, best-dressed boy and best-dressed senior citizen, organizer Linda Light said. There is no charge, and registration starts at 2 p.m.
The celebration was founded in 1941 by Marie B. Ellis, a pastor’s wife who died in 1962.
Light she considers the event an enduring legacy to Ellis, who was her grandmother.
“It’s really a blessing for the community to come out and support this every year. We couldn’t do it without the support of the community,” she said.
For information, call Light at (813) 650-4254.