Denton adults need not yearn for the Easter egg hunts of days gone by.
For the fifth year, Oak Street Drafthouse & Cocktail Parlor hosted its Easter Egg Bike Hunt on Sunday afternoon.
Even those without their own bikes weren’t left out of the fun. Through a partnership with VeoRide, an additional 25 bikes were available for free checkout Sunday afternoon. The bike-share program first hit the University of North Texas campus in August, and the city of Denton signed on to allow additional bikes in October.
Shortly before the day began, about 20 of the available bikes had been checked out, said Sonia Vasquez, fleet coordinator with VeoRide.
Adults of all ages strapped on their helmets for the egg hunt on wheels.
Country music wafted from the patio across the gravel lots and around picnic tables while early birds had their first pre-ride drinks, and the out-of-practice took laps up and down Oakland Street.
Shortly after 1 p.m., patrons and riders talked among themselves, occasionally mentioning how much more popular the hunt seemed this year. John Williams, Drafthouse owner and event organizer, said he expected around 100 people for this year’s ride. That’s up from the roughly 20 riders who turned out for the event’s first year.
Half an hour later, the smell of sunscreen was hanging heavily in the air. Ten minutes until the scheduled push-off at 2, a labyrinth of upright bicycles and casually drinking egg hunters had formed along fence lines, patches of gravel and surrounding sidewalks.
While a few hunters wore stereotypical tight shorts and sweat-wicking shirts, most were attired in shorts and T-shirts. One hunter even wore the urban marking of the habitual bike rider: One pant leg cuffed midway up his calf to avoid snags with the bike chain, revealing the ankle scars that come with the territory.
Between bites of a sandwich — he had just come from a picnic lunch date on the courthouse lawn — Brandon Babbitt said he hadn’t participated in the egg hunt in years past. He seemed to have always been busy during this weekend.
For the time being, however, he is purposefully jobless, having recently left his gig as a bicycle mechanic. He’s within sight of a monthslong bike ride that will take him to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, where he will follow the Great Divide Trail up to Banff, Alberta, and back to Denver in time for a friend’s wedding.
In total, he has about six months to make the roughly 3,700-mile journey, but he doesn’t think it will take that long.
With that in the near future, Babbitt wasn’t worried about the half-dozen miles ahead of him for the egg hunt bike ride.
On to opposite end of the spectrum, Chris Murvime couldn’t remember pedaling a bicycle in the past 15 to 20 years.
The retired Army sergeant first class spends time on a stationary bike at the gym and rides a motorcycle, but he was among those practicing along neighboring streets before the festivities began in earnest.
“I figure, if it gets me out and gets me a little exercise, what the heck?” he said.
After the ride was over, Murvime planned on lying down for a nap before a dinner of ham, deviled eggs, potato salad, and mac and cheese, but not before his granddaughter Averleigh had found her share of hidden eggs at McKenna Park, announcing to the world, “Woo! Yes! I got one right here!” before scurrying off for the next bit of plastic treasure.
Hidden in the eggs were assorted coupons for drinks, koozies, sunglasses, cash and more, Williams said. With that in mind, Babbitt had his sights set on one prize in particular.
“So I heard in the past couple years, [some] of the big prizes were little liquor bottles, and this year it’s supposed to be a whole-sized liquor bottle,” he laughed. “But whatever, cash is actually a little better.”
Because of the prizes offered, Williams said participants are meant to be at least 21 years old, but children could take part in a more traditional egg hunt at Quakertown Park in the afternoon.
For him, the premise is the appeal, and both are simple: “I think [it’s] just the whole bike ride thing, and then being able to hunt eggs like a kid and get adult prizes.”
Last year, he estimated one woman in particular walked away from the hunt after finding $120 hidden away.
With all said and done, just shy of 80 riders took to the winding Denton streets for the event.
With final words of wisdom, such as “Don’t go into traffic. Cars are bigger than you are; they will kill you,” riders took off toward the first of three stops. Those who went the full ride hit McKenna Park and a spot outside the University of North Texas’ Super Pit, then ended their hunt at Quakertown Park.
Just after the first bike bells had rung, and immediately before the first cyclists pushed off, one voice cut above the crowd: “Happy Easter, let’s go!”