9th annual underwater Easter egg hunt held on land this year

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Panama City Dive Club threw on their scuba gear Sunday to hunt for easter eggs.

While they normally dive for the eggs underwater, this time the expedition took place on land.

Every year the Panama City Dive Club invites members and fellow dive enthusiasts for an underwater easter egg hunt.

Sunday marks the 9th annual holiday pursuit.

“We typically place a hundred plus colored rocks symbol symbolizing eggs out under the water. And then we release divers out to find them,” said Panama City Dive Club President Charles Cromer.

This was the first time they took the excursion to Carl Gray Park.

It was also the first time that the divers had to remain on land instead of diving into the water to gather easter eggs.

The Florida Department of Health sent out a water quality health advisory for the area surrounding Carl Gray Park.

Water samples came back showing high levels of bacteria.

“So this is the first time here and it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced this actual type of incident. So we just had to overcome and adapt and turn it into a land-based easter egg hunt,” said Cromer.

With diving into the water being a risk, Dive Club president Charles Cromer planned an on-land event instead.

“Which that’ll be a little more family-friendly and allow people to get more involved,” said Cromer.

Participants of the easter egg hunt had to pay a five-dollar fee to enter.

100% of the money goes to the Gulf World Marine Institute.

“We also raise money for the Gulf World Marine Institute turtle rescue program. They do a lot of great work, especially this time of year when there’s a sudden cold snap, you have what’s called cold stone turtles. And without their intervention, we would lose them,” said Cromer.

“The money really helps out because we use it for anything that the sea turtles may need and equipment that we need. At GWMI it’s expensive to rehab a turtle. It takes a lot of people, a lot of volunteer hours a lot with the vets there. So, the money is really important and goes a long way,” said Gulf World Marine Institute Volunteer Angie Worcester.

Even though the event didn’t take place underwater, some participants still dawned on their scuba gear to remain in spirit.

The participant who collected the most eggs received a gift card and an insulated cup.

“It’s been a lot of fun. There’s always just a lot of really good people out here, too, and they’re giving away prizes. Dove club memberships cleaned up some trash out here, too, even though it wasn’t underwater this year…  I got this nice tumbler and a $25 Visa gift card. Honestly, going to donate it back to the Gulf World Marine Institute,” said participant Colin Clark.

A consolation prize of an annual dive club membership was also handed out.

Cromer said he plans on the next underwater easter egg hunt to actually be underwater.

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