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Hatchet Hunt Commemorates Washington’s Birthday

February 21, 1989

ATHOL, Mass. (AP) _ A lack of snow made it difficult to bury the hatchet, but that didn’t bother two boys who won top prizes in the 67th annual hatchet hunt commemorating George Washington’s birthday.

Eric Shepardson, 13, and 4-year-old Alex Blake Jr. found two engraved hatchets hidden in the woods as part of an Athol tradition to remind children of the founding father who, legend says, admitted as a boy that he chopped down a cherry tree.

″No snow, so it was hard to hide the prizes. The prizes were more easily found, but that was OK,″ said Joseph Hawkins, director of the local YMCA that sponsored Monday’s event along with the city Fire Department.

About 350 children participated in the three-hour hunt, Hawkins said.

Shepardson said he found one of the two hatchets when ″they started giving clues.

″It was in a tin can that someone threw. It landed right next to where I was standing,″ said the eighth-grader.

Finders keep the hatchets, which are capable of taking down a cherry tree, Hawkins said.

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