Come early, and don't worry about staying late -- there won't be any eggs left.

Come early, and don't worry about staying late -- there won't be any eggs left.

That's the advice of Randy Ketcham, coordinator of the Kiwanis Club of Northern Columbus' Easter egg hunt.

This year's edition of the venerable event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 30, in the lower meadow at Whetstone Park.

That's 10 a.m. sharp, Ketcham and other members of the service club emphasized.

The Kiwanians, assisted by members of local Key Clubs, Boy Scouts and community volunteers, spend hours distributing 6,000 eggs throughout the meadow to be found by children in four age groups: 2 and younger, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-9.

"It's quite an effort, and after doing it, the hunt is over in about five minutes," Ketcham said last week. "This is one event, really, where if you're like five, 10 minutes late, they're gone."

But parents who arrive too late or whose children get muscled out of the way by more-aggressive egg-seekers have no reason to worry. Kiwanis Club members wear special aprons at the event with large pockets containing some of the eggs so no one goes away upset or empty-handed, Ketcham said.

He said the eggs contain a variety of individually wrapped candy, including Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, mints and fruit chews.

The Easter Bunny will be on hand after the hunt to greet children and pose for photos

Ketcham said the hunt will be held rain or shine -- or even snow -- with the exception of dangerous weather such as lightning or an ice storm.

"We've had beautiful days; we've had days where we've had pockets of water to work around," he said. "In my knowledge, we've never had to cancel.

"We have the formula down pretty well," he added.

They should. Northern Kiwanis Club members feel fairly certain theirs is the oldest egg hunt in Columbus.

"We haven't heard of one that's older, but there's really no way of finding that out," Ketcham said. "We've been going since the late '40s, we're sure of that."

Members of the Kiwana -- the name for the ladies auxiliary of what once was a male-only organization -- started an egg hunt for the children and grandchildren of members in 1941. It was opened up to the public in 1949.

"Even though we've got an older membership, no one dates back that far, so we've had to rely on archives," Ketcham said.

"It's something that we really enjoy doing. We're to the point where we've got 20-plus members now, so to do this, we've got to rely on a lot of help."