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April 1, 2004

Hoppin' Good Time: Easter Bunny Visits School For Hearing Impaired

From: The Southern Illinoisan, IL - Apr 1, 2004

[Thu Apr 01 2004]

MARION -- Santa Claus may still reign supreme with kids, but the Easter Bunny is only a hop, skip and a jump away in popularity with the students at School for the Hearing Impaired in Marion.

The laughter was overwhelming Thursday afternoon as about 100 youngsters formed a conga line and followed the Easter Bunny, alias Denise Rutherford of Carbondale, in a parade inside the school to the tune of "The Bunny Hop."

"The parade was the best part," beamed third-grader Arianna James of Cairo. "The treats were good, but I really liked 'The Bunny Hop' dance." The 9-year-old James added that she was looking forward to going to her grandmother's house where she would be treated to an egg hunt.

Fellow third-grader Daniel Arroyo of Marion said he, too, enjoyed the improvised parade. "It was good exercise and a lot of fun," he said. "I also liked the candy. Chocolate rabbits are my favorite to eat."

Betsy Murphy, school coordinator, said the children had been anticipating the Easter Bunny's arrival for some time.

"It's tradition here," Murphy said. "The bunny's been coming to see us for the last 20 years. "She (Rutherford) has been coming here since her brother was a student here in the early 1980s. The kids especially like her because she signs with them -- communicating with them in their language."

Rutherford, who is involved with other charitable events such as the American Cancer Society and Special Olympics, said playing the role of Easter Bunny gives her the most pleasure.

"Whatever I can do to make the kids happy," she said. "I juggle, do the Hula Hoop, talk to them through sign language, pass out treats and do 'The Bunny Hop.' Easter is definitely my favorite time of the year."

The Carbondale Elks Lodge No. 1243 sponsored Rutherford's visit, complete with a treat bag for each student.

Rutherford is also scheduled to visit Memorial Hospital of Carbondale on April 10 beginning at 8:30 a.m. Children unfortunate enough to be confined to the hospital on Easter weekend will be treated to a visit from the pink-costumed Rutherford. All new mothers and mothers-to-be in the nursery will also receive warm greetings from the Easter Bunny as well. 618-997-3356 x15807

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