No one was quite sure how many years the Mendoza, Ortega, Vazquez and Sahdana families had been coming together to celebrate Easter at Foster Park, but somewhere along the way it became a tradition.
“We’ve been here in this park, right in this area for years,” Liliana Ortega said, motioning to the picnic table where her family and friends gathered. “It’s just something we do every year.”
By mid-afternoon Sunday, the group’s annual egg hunt was over and several of the young boys had finished an afternoon soccer game.
As they returned to the table for snacks, they picked through the loot; candy, toys and a few pairs of bunny ear headbands.
“We usually let the kids play for a while, then hide the eggs while they are away,” Ortega explained. “Then they do a hunt and we just spend time together.”
Although the dozen or so people seated around her aren’t technically family, they’ve celebrated Easter together for years, Ortega said.
“We’re cousins, basically,” she said. “We come together for holidays and they are just like family.”
Foster Park bustled Sunday with families eager to get out and enjoy the warm spring weather.
Tiberious McGhee held a wiggling 10-month-old LaMae Lantz and they prepared for a family photo.
LaMae squirmed in his arms in her white Easter dress as McGhee, 17, smiled and explained the family had been taking photos for a while and LaMae had probably had enough.
It had become a family tradition for Wesley McGhee and his children to visit the park, take a few photos and celebrate Easter together.
They’d hang out at the park for a few hours before heading home for a big dinner with the family, Wesley McGhee said.
“We’ll have about 30-some people coming over to the house tonight,” he said. “Do some eating and spend time together.”
Although some of his children weren’t able to be there for this year’s Easter holiday, he was glad to have a group of them together to celebrate, he added.
Across the park, Dan Fogarty and his daughters, Rachel and Brigette, took their dog Molly for a walk through park, stopping to let her drink and cool down in a puddle.
The family started their day at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church before coming to the park for an afternoon stroll.
The church was packed Sunday morning as families celebrated Easter Mass together, Dan Fogarty said.
“Then we came out to the park and we took a walk by the golf course,” he said.
Although part of the Fogarty family was on a trip in Florida, that didn’t stop him and his daughters from walking through the park to see the flowers and enjoy the sunshine, he said.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Dan Fogarty said.