Celebrations Traditional And Offbeat Mark Holiday Weekend
Undated (AP) _ A New Jersey town held a drive-through depiction of the Easter story Saturday, and Vietnamese-Americans in Mississippi held an observance interweaving ethnic and Christian traditions, while sunrise services and parades were planned for Sunday across the nation.
A Ukrainian Catholic church in Philadelphia planned to broadcast its Easter Sunday service to the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc nations via Voice of America to reach those unable to celebrate the holiday.
In Milan, Pa., members of a group calling itself the Farm Freedom Fighters dressed in bunny outfits and stole 40 hens from a poultry farm to protest what they called the cruelty of egg production.
″The Easter Bunny has vowed to continue collecting hens instead of eggs until all of his hen friends are free from the brutality of factory farming,″ read a message on a videotape of Friday’s raid released by Farm Sanctuary, a national animal rights group based in Rockland, Del.
In Bloomington, Calif., about 50 rabbits were taken from a breeding farm Saturday, police said, the Animal Liberation Front, which claimed responsibility for the action, said the number was 115.
The rabbits were destined for research, a statement said.
In more traditional activities, Homer, Ga., population 750, expected 20,000 guests Sunday to hunt for 72,000 hen eggs, 60,000 candy eggs and 100 prize eggs on the 40-acre Garrison family farm, an event billed as the world’s largest Easter egg hunt.
Competition came from New Orleans, where Sheriff Charles C. Foti had off- duty deputies hide more than 80,000 boiled eggs and 50,000 candy eggs nestled in baskets made by jail inmates for Saturday’s public hunt in Audubon Park.
The Indianapolis Zoo, meanwhile, planned an egg hunt Sunday for baboons.
″Easter egg hunts for kids at zoos can be dangerous,″ said Nancy Gholson Miller, a zoo spokeswoman. In the excitement the children may forget where they are and climb over a fence into a pen, she said.
Easter finery was being prepared for promanades, parades and Easter bonnet competitions Sunday on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Indianapolis, and the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J.
Sunrise services were scheduled across the nation, including one for hundreds of firefighters battling a blaze that has scorched 7,500 acres in Kisatchie National Forest in west-central Louisiana. Officials hoped to control the fire by Sunday afternoon.
In Marion, Ind., a cast of almost 1,000 people will be featured in this year’s Easter pageant, which is to be broadcast around the world by the Armed Services radio network. About 2,000 people work behind the scenes.
″From the lowest to the one with the most responsibility, it is done voluntarily and very lovingly,″ said Ruth Thomas, a pageant director.
Sayre Wood Baptist Church in Old Bridge, N.J., presented a drive-through depiction of the Easter story in which 42 church members portrayed biblical figures on the church’s circular driveway. About 1,000 people drove through the exhibit Wednesday through Saturday nights, church secretary Marianne Murr said.
Many Biloxi, Miss., residents kneeled in their front yards Friday as they watched about 300 Vietnamese Roman Catholics march in the street, reciting the Stations of the Cross.
But the ritual, which depicts 14 images representing Christ’s sufferings, was chanted in the language of their homeland and included traditional Vietnamese touches such as black and white attire, symbolizing peace.
The destination was a 60 foot plastic ″tomb″ filled with brightly colored streamers, paintings, ornaments and popcorn, all formed into a Vietnamese Easter theme.
Philadelphia’s Ukrainian service will be significant because the broadcast comes from ″the birthplace of independence in the United States to a people who cannot experience that inalienable right of freedom to religion,″ said the Rev. John M. Fields, spokesman for the archdiocese.
The Soviet Union abolished the Ukraine Catholic Church in Russia more than 40 years ago, according to Fields.
″By the means of modern radio communications, the faithful in the persecuted church in the Soviet Union, especially the Ukraine, will be able to share their faith their relatives and friends in the United States,″ he said.