Parents were upset when an Easter egg hunt turned into a shoving match on Saturday morning.
For the third year in a row, the Easter egg hunt was held at the Pez Visitor Center in Orange.
According to Pez, event organizers placed more than 9,000 eggs on three different fields. The goal was to have staggered starts for each age group.
"When it came time at like 10:30 a.m., the parents just bum-rushed that area," West Haven resident Nicole Welch, who attended the event with her 4-year-old son, said.
The free event drew hundreds of people, but it quickly got out of hand, according to parents.
“Unfortunately people chose to enter the first field prior to anyone from Pez staff starting the activity. The crowd moved to the second field, waited for only a couple of minutes and proceeded to rush the field without being directed to do so and before the posted start time,” Pez officials said in a statement on Saturday.
Pez officials said the crowd of people “immediately moved to the third field, took over and removed everything well before the activity was to even start.”
"So we started talking to people and say 'hey this is supposed to start at certain time'," Pez General Manager Shawn Peterson said. "Well that lasted about a minute and everyone just rushed the field and took everything."
Welch told Eyewitness News that children were trampled, parents knocked over children and eggs were stolen out of peoples’ baskets. Peterson said the crowd was "kind of like locusts."
"I'm not going to take my kids where they don't consider the safety of my kids in any way, shape, or form," Welch said.
However, Welch was not alone. Many parents posted their frustrations on the Pez company's Facebook.
Pez said its general manager and the other staff at the visitor center tried to inform parents that there was extra candy on hand for those children who didn't get any.
"We sincerely tried our best to create a fun, free activity for everyone to enjoy,” Pez said.
Welch said she and her son were son are "traumatized” by the entire incident.
"When my son left he had a broken basket and he was hysterically crying," Welch said.
Peterson said it was "unfortunate" what happened and his team was only trying "to do their best, but fell a little short."
"We made efforts to get everyone something before they left and passed out tons of candy and coupons and the front entry and tried to make the best of an unfortunate situation. Due to the actions of a few, the good intent quickly turned into a mess. I would like to sincerely apologize to each of our guests, this was not something created to frustrate or make people angry. We only wanted to do good for the local community," Pez said.
There were no reports of any injuries. Orange police did not respond to the event, but they did speak with company officials afterward.
To read the full statement from Pez, click here.
To see the photos of the event on your mobile device, click here.
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