Scramble In the Works for ‘Ostrich Off’

Sometimes bigger is better.

While churches and community centers will be holding countless egg-decorating contests in April and May to celebrate Easter and the coming of spring, Metro Parks is going grande. While the standard painting and dyeing contests around Tacoma will be using regular chicken eggs, Metro Parks will use ostrich eggs, which are about the size of a child’s head.

Anyone can swing by the Portland Avenue Community Center April 9-12 or April 16-20 to participate in the second annual “Ostrich Off” contest. Painted, dyed, carved or otherwise decorated shells must be returned by May 14 to be considered in the final judging. The eggs will be on display May 14-18, with the final judging set for May 19. The theme is spring.

Prizes will be awarded in three categories: originality, creativity and use of medium. Top winners get $50, while other winners will receive gift baskets of goodies from local businesses.

Last year’s first-time event proved so successful that Metro Parks brought it back this year, and people are already asking about getting their hands on those eggs. Families, teens, younger children and local artists will have to scramble once the 140 eggs arrive.

“We want to include the whole community,” program manager Laura Rodriquez said. “I really think it is a cool idea. Last year, our event coordinator Joel (Chang) came up with the idea of trying this art project out and it was a huge success. People really got into it and created true works of art. When I saw the eggs that were left over from last year, I thought it was a great idea and I thought that we needed to continue doing this at one of our community centers.”

Contest entry fees are $10 for children up to $25 for artists. More information is available at

Egg decorating 101

Eggs are universal symbols for birth, new life and beginnings. Decorating eggs to celebrate spring dates back well before Christianity adopted the tradition to mark Easter, the holiday to mark the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The first known use of decorative eggs can be traced back to the ancient Persians, Chinese and Egyptians, who not only used the egg as a symbol for the universe but to mark new life with the passing of the Spring Equinox. The Jewish celebration of the Passover Seder has also included eggs for thousands of years.

Early Christians used eggs as symbols for new life. The use of eggs then became a way to mark the end of Lent during the Middle Ages. Lent is a Christian period of personal reflection and general fasting that traditionally included forgoing the eating of eggs for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Easter marks the return of eggs to the breakfast table, which is why many churches hold pancake breakfasts that Sunday.

The most expensive decorative eggs ever made were crafted by created by master jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé around the turn of the last century. The most expensive Fabergé egg ever sold was crafted in 1902 for the French Rothschild banking family. It sold in 2007 for $17.4 million. The egg is a bejeweled clock in the shape of an egg with a diamond-set cockerel that pops up on the hour. The auction amount also makes it the most expensive timepiece ever sold and the most expensive Russian art object. It now resides in a private museum in Russia. For more budget-conscious shoppers, other original Fabergé eggs cost just $10 million when they go up for auction.


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