By Ivan Pereira
Thousands of southeast Queens children participated in the park's seventh annual Easter Egg Hunt, running and exploring the greenspace's terrain to find their yummy prizes.”It's nice for everyone because the kids get to play outside with their parents and play the carnival games for free,” said Tasha Shivers, 36, of Rochdale Village, who attended the hunt with her 5-year-old son, Brandon Bennett.The chase for the Easter eggs, including the grand prize golden egg, was not the only exercise for the nearly 5,000 5-to-10-year-olds. Many athletic and fun rides were set up around the park, including basketball hoops and a 30-foot rock-climbing wall.There was another healthy side to the day's event, according to Abbe Abboa-Offe of Affinity Health Plan, the event's sponsor. Aside from the candy that they earned, the children ate healthier snacks such as vegetables, fruits and juices from concession stands.”Kids are going to be kids, but it's important that they learn healthy habits that they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” Abboa-Offe said.The event also provided help to the children's parents. Affinity and other area groups, such as the Queens Public Library and the Fire Department, were also on hand to give parents handouts and information on their helpful programs.City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who co-sponsored the event with fellow leaders U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), applauded the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.”It's good for people to get out and discover the park. They can do these physical things every day,” said Comrie, who is using his own fight against obesity to promote a healthy lifestyle for black Americans.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.