By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News
Giddy with excitement and anticipation, the young children of Tulalip, some sitting in their driveways, others peeking out their blinds every five seconds, were on the lookout for two magical creatures who joined forces over the Easter holiday weekend. Both are animals but walk upright like humans and stand at approximately 6’0” in height. The characters walked through the streets of several Tulalip neighborhoods, delivering candy, bubbles and toys to the youth, who were in total awe and were über-ecstatic to see a giant bunny and a life-sized dalmatian visit them – at their home, on their very-own reservation.
The Easter Bunny and Sparky the Fire Dog responded to the call when local community-led and funded organization, Together We’re Better, needed a little assistance spreading Easter joy to Tulalip families.
“It was important for us to do an event,” expressed Together We’re Better Founder, Malory Simpson. “Normally, we do a huge Easter egg hunt and multiple communities come out to celebrate, but COVID has interfered with a lot of events this year. Seeing the kids cooped up and not having anything really planned for them, we wanted to do something for the kids and bring Easter to the community.”
Pre-pandemic, Together We’re Better was known throughout Tulalip for their monthly potlucks and putting on exhilarating community events such as the Halloween-themed Trunk-or-Treat gathering. Together We’re Better also collaborates and assists other local organizations with their events, such as the Aunties-in-Action for their periodic food distributions.
With gathering-limitations still in place, the organization decided to bring Easter eggs to the children this year as opposed to their annual tradition of hiding them. Drawing inspiration from the Tulalip Bay Fire Department’s yearly Christmas-time Santa Run, Together We’re Better partnered with the local fire station to present a similar festivity to the community.
On the afternoon of April 3, Malory, a group of Together We’re Better volunteers, a number of firefighters, Sparky the Fire Dog, and the Easter Bunny gathered outside of the Tulalip Bay fire station. After the group convened for a quick game plan, the entire collective hopped to it, with baskets of candy in-hand, while escorted by a shiny fire engine and an EMS vehicle.
“Our main mission is to serve the community,” said TBFD Firefighter, John Carlson. “Serving doesn’t always mean emergency responses, it also means helping out and bringing some happiness, and today was a day exactly like that. A lot of people have been cooped up and felt kind of isolated, just kind of not in a normal state. This brought back a little bit of normalcy back to their lives. We certainly haven’t done public events like we used to in the past, so it was really great for us too. It was refreshing to get out of the station and interact with the public. I love the pure joy and smiles. Some of the kids were shaking and dancing they were so excited to see us coming.”
As the group delivered candy and other Easter goodies to the kids, they were in-turn awarded with smiles, laughter and love from the children who were happy to see the Easter bunny this year, as well as Sparky, although most Paw-Patrol fans mistook the friendly dalmatian for the show’s lead-character, Marshall. Kids weren’t the only ones to enjoy the event as many elders posted outside on their porches or driveways, greeting the procession while they made they made-their-way to the various neighborhoods within the TBFD’s district, including Mission Highlands, Silver Village, Battle Creek and the Y-Site.
Malory exclaimed, “I loved it. It felt great to be out there. A lot of these kids, I worked at their school, so it was amazing seeing them. Their smiles and laughter make you feel really good inside. Together We’re Better is community funded. We were blessed with a little bit of a donation from the Tulalip events department. At the last minute they gave us some suckers and bubbles. But for the most part, it’s community-driven and 100% community-funded. Just seeing the excitement was one of the best things about the event today, bringing some joy into the developments and seeing how happy the kids were to see the Easter Bunny and Sparky the Dalmatian.”
If you are looking to get more involved with the community, Together We’re Better, is always accepting donations, whether that is goods, money or your personal volunteered time. For more information, please contact Malory Simpson at (425) 905-9137.