Symbolism, celebrations and snow as Duluth observes Easter, PassoverDespite what the weather might have you thinking, spring is officially under way. Passover starts this week and Easter is next Sunday.
Despite what the weather might have you thinking, spring is officially under way. Passover starts this week and Easter is next Sunday.
From Easter Bunny visits to partaking in the Seder to a candlelight vigil, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate in Duluth over the next week.
Here is a sampling of some of the festivities:
Easter Egg hunts
Pilgrim Congregational Church, Duluth Gospel Tabernacle and the Lake Superior Zoo are all hosting Easter egg events Saturday, March 30.
The Pilgrim event, which takes place from 10 to 11:30 a.m., at 2310 E. Fourth Street, features an Easter egg hunt, games, crafts and pictures with the Easter Bunny. The event is free and open to the public.
“I think people think of Halloween parties and other holiday parties, but not really Easter,” said Melanie Grune, an organizer of the event. “This is our third year doing it. It’s gone really well the previous years and we’re always excited when we get more people coming in.”
The event, which is aimed toward preschool and elementary school students, will also feature cookie decorating, picture frame decorating and a “cakewalk” with free cupcakes.
The Duluth Gospel Tabernacle event will also take place from 10 to 11:30, at 1515 W. Superior Street. There will be an indoor Easter egg hunt, arts and crafts and story time. The event, free and open to the public, is geared toward children up to sixth grade.
“DGT is all about the kids. We like to do events like this throughout the year,” said youth pastor Rebecca Haapanen. “And I’m known for my prizes and craziness.”
The church recycles its plastic Easter eggs, allowing the organizers to reuse them the next year, Haapanen said.
“At the end, we welcome everyone to dump the eggs from their baskets into some big garbage cans so we can save the eggs,” she said. “We had to buy only about 1,000 eggs this year. I think people can appreciate that we recycle them.”
The Lake Superior Zoo is also hosting its annual Easter EGG-stravaganza 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the zoo, 7210 Freemont Street.
The Easter Bunny will oversee an egg hunt and coloring contest. There will also be a “candy walk,” face painting, games and visits with the animals.
Families will also be able to watch lemurs, tigers and barnyard animals enjoy egg-themed treats.
The Miller Hill Mall is bringing back the Caring Bunny for another year. Because many children with special needs aren’t able to visit the Easter Bunny during his regular hours at the mall, the special event will be held to give families an opportunity to visit in a subdued environment.
The Caring Bunny will be on hand at the mall from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, March 24, before the mall opens.
“We turn the fountains off, turn the music off, and the mall is closed, so it allows children to connect with their families in a way that they couldn’t in the past,” said Machelle Kendrick, director of marketing for the mall.
A fairly small audience gathered last year, but the mall hopes to increase awareness of the event, she said. Parents are welcome to also bring along children with other behavioral issues, or simply large families that are too difficult to bring during regular mall hours.
Barnes and Noble staffers will also be on hand to read with children and Great American Cookies will provide treats.
The bunny has been specially trained to work with special needs children, Kendrick said.
“He’s prepared for kids who are in wheelchairs or kids who need to touch everything or don’t want to touch anything,” she said. “What’s really interesting is that Santa Claus is sort of a real person, so certain kids can’t deal with that. But the bunny appeals to a lot of kids because they can interact with the bunny better. It’s a character, not a person.”
Anyone who wants to attend the Caring Bunny event is requested to RSVP at abilitypath.org.
Passover begins Monday and continues through Tuesday, April 2. Jewish families will celebrate the first Seder on Monday evening, gathering in homes with family and friends.
The second Seder will be celebrated Tuesday night, during which many Jews will assemble at Temple Israel for a retelling of the story of Passover.
“Passover is the celebration of the deliverance of Israelites from Egypt,” said Tom Griggs, president of the temple. “The Passover Seder is the retelling of story of Exodus. It’s not so much of a festive celebration like Purim and Hanukkah, but more biblically oriented.”
The feast will feature brisket, gefilte fish, mushroom and potato kugel, roasted vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, charoset, matzah, popovers and desserts.
A film will also be shown Friday at the temple, located at 1602 E. Second Street. “The Mortal Storm,” a 1940 feature film that was one of the first Hollywood films to criticize the Nazi regime, will be shown, and a light kosher dinner will be served.
University of Minnesota Duluth professor Alexis Pogorelskin will introduce the film and lead a community discussion afterwards.
The cost of the film and dinner is $5. For reservations, call (218)724-8857.
Bonfire and vigil
First Lutheran Church in Duluth is celebrating Easter with a bonfire and candlelight vigil Saturday, March 30. The event takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the church, 1100 E. Superior Street.
After a bonfire outside, congregants will light beeswax candles and carry the light into the sanctuary, symbolizing the overnight resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“On Easter morning, he was already out of the tomb,” said Rev. April Larson. “This great mystery happens this night. All these images of darkness and night are very symbolic.”
After the service, congregants will indulge in sweets, again symbolic of the sweetness of the news that Christ had been resurrected.
Larson noted that Easter is the most important festival in the Christian Church. The Saturday vigil is something that may seem new to many Duluthians, but it’s actually a centuries- old celebration.
“It’s something that hasn’t been historically done much lately, but it’s been growing since we started it,” she said. “It’s not anything new. We’re just trying to strengthen ancient and historic practices of the church.”