Bruce’s Beach Egg Roll Goes Wrong

By Dave Fratello | April 1st, 2018

It could have been a beautiful Saturday morning at the park for local residents and their children.

“I came away bruised and covered in egg spatter,” said Molly Humphries.

After her father sustained minor injuries, 8-year-old Chloe Sandoz called Saturday's event, “A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again.”

No, this year’s first-ever Manhattan Beach Easter Egg Roll at Bruce’s Beach Park did not go according to plan.

The original idea was appealing: Meet at the scenic hillside park the day before Easter and have an old-fashioned egg roll down the grassy knoll. The event would feature egg-dyeing, balloon animals, sweet treats and a visit from the Easter Bunny.

“I think we underestimated the incline here,” said city parks official David Thibodeaux. “It turned out to be a dangerous spot for an egg roll. I don’t think we’ll be back here next year.”

After a fabric course was laid over the grass, the first few “test runs” went off without a hitch. Hard-boiled eggs tumbled down the hill. Some stayed on track, while some veered off to the side and came to rest on the grass. Volunteers waited at the base of the run, looking to catch the eggs as they came to the bottom.

The goal for the roll, held at the midtown park overlooking the Pacific Ocean, was to mimic the World Famous Pumpkin Race with a “race” between eggs in a few different “lanes” down the hillside.

The trouble started with the preschoolers. (As it often does.)

The youngest children went first, unleashing decorated, hard-boiled eggs down the hill. Some eggs continued straight, but now and then, an egg would pick up speed, then launch skyward in random directions after hitting a bump in the course.

Beebe Albright was the first spectator to be hit by an errant egg.

Ironically, it was her 4-year-old niece, Paula, who had rolled the orange-dyed egg with a unicorn sticker on it.

“It happened fast. I was cheering for my niece’s egg, then saw this blur coming at me and the egg, I guess, it hit me in the eye,” says Albright, 54, who lives nearby in the gaslamp district.

Albright said she’s OK. “I’m not badly injured. A bit in shock. I do still have this image stuck in my mind - a cartoon unicorn coming at my face. Hopefully this bruise won't last too long.”

Egg roll organizers thought that what happened to Albright was likely a fluke, and the event continued. A few more rounds went by without a hitch, then a volunteer egg-catcher was hit.

Stan Markham was first hit in the shin by a green-dyed egg with gold glitter.

“I was thinking, ‘They’re cute,’” Markham said, “‘the way they wobble coming down that hill. But man, they really book.’ I told the others, ‘Watch out.’ And then one hit me. Of course, that was just the first time.”

Markham and the other volunteers decided to make a game of it, grabbing baseball gloves, pillows and blankets to try to capture out-of-control eggs. Still, several volunteers got hit, suffering minor scrapes and bruises.

Scenes of chaos and confusion emerged occasionally during the egg roll as eggs raced downhill at surprising speeds, taking to the air, sometimes a few at a time. Crowds of spectators would duck, gasp and shriek when eggs got airborne.

Still, in all, spectators were hit “not more than seven or eight times,” by hard-boiled eggs, estimated Thibodeaux, the event organizer, who got an earful from local residents at different points during the egg roll. He noted that the crowd began to stand further back each time an egg bounced and bonked an onlooker, reducing the risk.

Then there were the uncooked eggs.

A vendor hired by the city to boil eggs for the event apparently didn’t complete the job, and brought un-boiled eggs, also.

Children at the event dyed and decorated the uncooked eggs at the same time as they did the hard-boiled ones. No one knew the difference as children took their spots to roll their eggs down the hill.

Molly Humphries had been smacked in the arm by a hard-boiled egg earlier in the morning. “It was about the third or fourth egg I saw go flying,” she said. After that, she said, “I figured, lightning can’t strike twice.”

Humphries moved in closer to watch a group of 2nd-graders from Grand View Elementary take their turn. But lightning did strike twice, when a sparkly red-and-blue egg hit the shoulder of a man to her left. The uncooked egg broke open and went “splat” against Humphries and a man next to her. Most of the yolk was spread across Humphries’ cardinal-and-gold USC sweatshirt. A man next to her had egg white down his pants leg.

On the next roll, a teenage boy standing nearby was hit in the forehead by a raw egg.

At that point, Humphries said, “It was all too gross. I told my friends, 'I’m getting out of here. I’m going home right now to wash this out.'”

While leaving, and walking past a city council member dressed in an Easter Bunny costume, Humphries was heard to mutter, "Worst. Easter. Ever."

Thibodeaux refused to name the council member inside the bunny costume, citing confidentiality. (The bunny had turned tail after about the 5th egg-related injury.)

Thibodeaux said the concept for the day’s event, which Council had supported with a 4-1 vote, came out of the fact that Manhattan Beach scouts are credited with inventing the Pinewood Derby, while other locals created the World Famous Pumpkin Race, which now holds its annual event downtown at the pier.

“It just seems that Manhattan Beach people are good at rolling things down hills,” he observed. "This seemed like a natural extension of all that."

Shortly after the event, Thibodeaux said, “Maybe next year a simple egg hunt like Hermosa’s would be a better idea."

But when reached late Saturday, Thibodeaux was informed that Hermosa Beach's egg hunt event at Valley Park yesterday drew thousands of people, with reports of parking problems, barking dogs, crying children and several light tramplings during what one observer called an "Easter Egg Stampede."

"Honestly," said Thibodeaux, "I'm out. Great holiday and all, but they'll need someone else to organize next year. It will be great not to have Easter fall on April 1st again. Everything becomes a joke."

Please see our blog disclaimer.

Latest Listings Among
Manhattan Beach Homes For Sale