|Watch us celebrate Easter on Jekyll Island, Georgia shot with the Sony WX50 Cybershot camera. If you’d like to create your own free video slideshow with your own photos click here.|
As I pulled into the parking area for the Jekyll Island Easter Egg Stroll I saw purple and blue horses in the distance. “Oh good,” I thought, “the wagon rides are back again this year.” This was my second year to attend the Easter Egg Stroll in Jekyll Island, Georgia’s famed historic district. My daughter, now four, was beyond excited to arrive and the sight of the purple and blue horses just increased her excitement.
After passing under the stately oaks and their arching limbs we passed the pastel colored horses and followed the signs to the Easter Egg Stroll. Around us we passed by the magnificent architecture of Jekyll’s Historic District featuring the Winter “cottages,” mansions really, of some of America’s once wealthiest and most prominent families from the Rockefellers to the Morgans. One-sixth of the world’s wealth once inhabited this island every winter from the 1890s until the early part of the 20th century when the island was sold to the state of Georgia.
Finally, we reached the festivities area and my daughter’s first order of business was to get her face painted for her picture with the Easter Bunny. Luckily we were early and the line was nowhere near as long as last year’s line. She chose a pretty purple and pink flower design that would flow down the side of her face from her forehead to nearly her chin. Like a seasoned pro she hopped up in the makeup chair, closed her eyes and was ready for her facial art to commence. In no-time the makeup artist had accentuated her face with the beautiful floral design cascading down the side of her face. When she was done she handed my daughter a mirror with which to approve her artistry. My daughter’s smiles and excitement meant she approved of the quality of the makeup job.
Next we stood in the long line for photos with the Easter Bunny. Luckily the line was moving quite rapidly, thanks to a few younger kids deciding the Easter Bunny was a scary monster who they wanted nothing to do with. Two years ago my daughter would have reacted the same but now she is a “big girl” and hopped right up on the Easter Bunny’s lap and was ready for her closeup. After snapping a couple of photos she hopped down and was ready to begin her hunt for Easter eggs.
We started our hunt for the brightly colored plastic easter eggs in the yard beside the bright yellow house where the Easter Bunny was set up for photos. Within seconds my daughter had found her first egg. These were much more cleverly hidden than from the previous year. Last year she was three and spent her time in a fenced-off zone reserved for kids three and under. These eggs were just laying in plain sight for the little ones to easily find and add to their basket. But this year my daughter was old enough to hunt eggs with the bigger kids. Once she realized the eggs weren’t just laying on the ground out in the open she started looking in more unexpected locations. Quickly she found several more hidden at the base of the stately live oak trees and even one bright yellow egg cleverly hidden in the vines that hang from the oaks’ limbs.
Once her basket was nearly full of eggs we decided to head to the pony rides. This is by far her favorite activity at the Easter Egg Stroll. Last year the pony ride consisted of being led around a small area on your very own pony. This year the pony rides consisted of several ponies of various sizes, miniature to normal-sized ponies, walking in a circle while connected to a metal turnstile. She was assigned a brown and white miniature pony and once lifted onto his back she took her position. The attendant noted she appeared to have ridden a pony before since she seemed to already know the rules. I nodded in agreement and then the ponies began their slow walk around and around in a circle.
After dismounting, my daughter decided to pet her pony and brush its blonde hair from in front of its eyes. Then it was off to hunt more Easter eggs. After filling her basket to nearly overflowing she decided it was time to take them to the information booth and exchange them for a treat. Given the choice between reaching into a grab box and pulling out ten treats or receiving an already prepared treat bag she chose the treat bag.
At this point we were both starving and decided to walk to the snack shop and get a hot dog and chips. After finishing our lunch we headed to our final activity and the first we saw upon arrival: a wagon ride pulled by a pastel pink horse. Upon boarding the wagon we were soon on our way for a twenty minute tour of the Historic District. We learned about the great wealth that once existed on this island during its hey day. We also learned how the Federal Reserve came into existence by secret meetings held on this island. But it was two random tidbits that really caught my daughter’s attention.
First, our guide mentioned there were two large alligators in a pond down one of the bike trails. My daughter loves alligators and insisted we go see them. The guide also mentioned that one of the “cottages” was known as the “ghost house” because it was haunted by ghosts. This fascinated my daughter and she had a dozen questions for the guide about these ghosts and made me promise I’d take her to see this “ghost house.”
After passing the Jekyll Island Club with a couple playing coquet on its front lawn and past another building our guide said was the first condominium ever built we finally made it back to where we started. We exited the wagon and I took a photo of my daughter in front of the pink horse.
We next made a b-line for the bike path that led to the alligator pond. After walking about fifteen minutes down this dirt and shell road we found the pond.
The “No Feeding the Alligators” sign was a sure sign we were in the right spot. And right on the bank of the pond about fifteen feet from the bike path was a large 12 foot alligator basking in the midday sun. A feet away was another, smaller alligator perhaps ten feet long also basking on the bank. It was amazing to be so close to such a large and powerful wild animal with absolutely nothing between it and you. If you wanted you could recreate your favorite scene from the Gator Boys tv show but just realize there are no medical facilities on the island. (Actually, harassing the alligators is illegal so it’s probably best just to observe from afar.)
While gawking at the gators I heard something moving around in the woods on the opposite side of the bike path from the pond. It didn’t sound like a lumbering gator but more like the precise steps of nimble deer. Sure enough I saw two deer perhaps ten feet away. They were so well camouflaged that when they stopped moving they blended perfectly into the vegetation.
Having checked one item off the must-see list, the alligators, we next headed back down the bike path to the parking lot so we could drive to the “ghost house.” We circled through the Historic District but never actually found the ghost house but continued driving towards the Clam Creek picnic area. On the way we entered the Horton House Historic District and saw the tabby remains of the 18th century Horton House. I convinced my daughter this was the ghost house and so we parked and explored the ruins. She wanted to know where the ghosts were so we walked across the street to the DuBignon Cemetery and saw the grave markers and above ground tombs of the French aristocrats buried here. I explained to my daughter that this was where the ghosts slept during the day. This seemed to satisfy her curiosity. While standing in the cemetery another of the islands furry residents gave us a visit: a raccoon.
We soon left the Horton House ruins and headed to the Clam Creek picnic area. This is also the location of the Jekyll Island fishing pier. As we pulled into the parking area we watched an enormous cargo ship pass so close you could almost touch it. The area also had a bait and snack shop so we went inside on a search for ice cream. The snack shop has a selection of both packaged ice cream products as well as hand scooped ice cream flavors. My daughter chose a Sponge Bob ice cream bar and I chose two scoops of butter pecan ice cream. We took our icy desserts to a nearby picnic table and enjoyed ourselves. Once finished we took a walk on the fishing pier where my daughter enjoyed looking in the buckets of the many fishermen to see what they had caught.
Overall it was a fun-filled day on Jekyll Island that my daughter will not soon forget.