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Easter Bunny hops around Alpena Township over the weekend

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The Easter Bunny said hello to Alpena Township Trustee Norm Poli while at the fire station, before taking a tour of the area and saying hello to the area families.

There were a lot of smiling faces in Alpena Township this weekend, as the Easter Bunny chose to spend the holiday in the township and spread good-cheer with its residents.

While out and about this weekend, the bunny was smiling ear-to-ear, as it took a tour of the area. It was chauffeured around in a fire truck driven by Alpena Township Fire Department staff, as onlookers wanting to say hello stood by the roadside and waved.

On Easter Sunday, Bunny relaxed at the Alpena Township’s southside fire station, where it visited with local children and handed out goodies.

Before climbing on the fire rig Saturday, the Bunny took time to chat with The News about the holiday, the area, and COVID-19.

Last Easter, the state was in the heart of its government stay-at-home order, so the Easter Bunny spent little, if any, time in Northeast Michigan. Now, as restrictions have eased, it decided to reward the girls and boys who were unable to say hello last year, by showing up for the weekend.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The Easter Bunny, left, spent the weekend in Alpena Township and took a tour of the area with friend Bev Banks. They were driven around the township in one of the township fire engines.

“For the last year I have been trying to stay safe so I could bring all the kiddies their prizes for Easter this year,” the rabbit said. “I’m excited to see all of them while I’m here and I have worked very hard to make this a good Easter for them.”

The Easter Bunny was invited to Alpena by close friends Bev Banks and Abby Stevens, and with the full support of the fire department and township board of trustees. Banks said having the Easter Bunny in the area, will help to brighten the spirits of people brought down by the pandemic.

“Everybody has had a bad year and the last year has been tough on everybody,” Banks said. “Who’s better to help the community heal than the Easter Bunny?”

Banks said during the bunny’s ride in the fire truck, they made a pass through the driveway at MediLodge-Alpena where residents were waiting outside to say hello. She said there were a lot of smiles and joy everywhere the popular rabbit went.

“Seeing the reactions of the people, and the smiles on their faces made me want to cry,” she said. “Having the Easter Bunny here has been incredible.”

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz When there were no kids to chat with, the Easter Bunny waved to motorists passing by the Alpena Township Fire Department’s southside station. The motorists often honked their horns and waved back.

Alpena Township Fire Chief Dave Robbins said his staff welcomed the bunny into the station with open arms, and helping coordinate its busy schedule was something everyone wanted to be a part of.

Robbins said firefighters do more than put out fires, and help people who are hurt. He said they help the community in other ways too, such as helping residents spend some time with the holiday mascot, and have a happy and safe holiday.

“This is a chance for us to give back and the crew has been looking forward to it,” he said. “The year 2020 was a year of separation and people being apart, so we thought this would not only be fun, but was also necessary.”

The Easter Bunny said everyone has been impacted by COVID-19, but during the last year, children have sacrificed a lot. It said kids were forced to miss school and other activities, not see friends, and miss some holiday celebrations. It thanked the kids for being brave and strong, but also cautioned them to continue their good behavior, even as things begin to go back to normal.

“Just remember I’m friends with Santa, so I will tell him if I see anything bad going on, I know the kids are all good, but there are some that just need to clean things up a little bit.”

NewsPhoto by Steve Schulwitz Lilly Wood, left, and her brother Gabriel Wood spent some quality time with the Easter Bunny on Easter Sunday. The Easter Bunny spent the weekend in Alpena Township and made time for all who wanted to say hello.

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