A boy searches the grass for Easter eggs on Sunday at LFM Park in Atchison.
In spite of long distance from a town that has changed a lot since his childhood, for Rickye Jenkins, the hunt must go on.
Jenkins, an Atchison native who has since moved to Los Angeles, planned for the 14th annual Easter Egg Hunt for much of the year before flying across the country to make it happen, in honor of his hometown and his faith.
Kids and their families were treated to a performance by Atchison rapper Charles “Yung Knowledge” Ford-Downing, along with a visit from the ultimate hip-hop artist, the Easter Bunny.
Jenkins has run the event since taking it over from a friend. For most of its existence, he has supported it with his own money, but said Atchison residents and other supporters have been crucial to its considerable growth in the last two years.
“I remember when it was only my 5-year-old daughter and maybe 50 other kids there,” he said in a previous interview. “It’s come so far.”
Even though he has left town, Jenkins estimates he will continue to do the event indefinitely, because he never wants to forget his roots or let down the kids who came to celebrate.
“I do it because kids look forward to it,” he said. “I do it for my people. I don’t have any sponsors other than people on GoFundMe, it’s just me and hard work ... I hope to one day create a foundation to keep it going. That would be great.”
Ford-Downing said his involvement in the event is motivated by a desire to set a good example for the kids who attend, and to remind them of God’s love as he wishes to share it with everyone he meets.
“If you read the Bible, it talks about love a lot,” Ford-Downing said. “We may not come from the same areas or the same neighborhood, or have the same thoughts and backgrounds and stuff like that, but as long as we love each other, we can do anything.”
Ford-Downing said he respects Easter traditions like the fun and games, family gathering and the Easter Bunny, but he views faith to be of the utmost importance.
“I’m a church boy, I was raised in a church all my life,” he said. “So today, I’m thinking most of all about the resurrection of Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again in three days ... I know the true meaning of this day and the lives that are being impacted.”
Jenkins told the crowd he was grateful for the support he’s received.
“You know, I come all the way from California to make this happen every year,” he said. “But that’s the work. You all make this happen.”