It’s a tradition that has been almost half a century in the making, the annual Easter egg hunt. Annie Occhipinti, the daughter of Dena and her late husband Cos, recalls the start of this annual tradition.
“The Saffos asked my folks, Cos and Dena, if they would take on the annual Rolling Hills Easter egg hunt. The first time we held it was in 1976,” she smiles. This tradition has been going strong ever since. This special event was organized by the Rolling Hills Women’s Community Club.
“My parents really loved doing it and liked supporting the community,” adds Annie.
A Legacy Lives On
Annie's father, who was very invested in the Easter egg hunt, passed away in February 2016, but his legacy lives on through the annual event. Annie and her mom still host the Easter egg hunt on their property, and for the last two years Women’s Club co-chairs Kristin Kahl-Reno and Brittney Gardner have organized the event. The event continues to draw a large crowd of families who return year after year, and it has become an essential part of the Rolling Hills community. Annie estimates 300-400 people in attendance each year on their spacious front lawn. This special event is always held the Sunday before Easter and families flock to it each year.
Through the years, Dena and Annie have had a lot of memorable moments of the Easter egg hunt. Annie recalls when people dropped off food on their porch the day before, only for the wildlife to enjoy it. A red fox snatched one of the yellow chick sugar cookies from Mayer’s Bakery and sprinted across the driveway. Annie recalls, “We laughed because of all the cookies, he chose the yellow chick, not the bunny, the Easter eggs, or the flowers!” She still gets a smile on her face when she recalls this mischievous fox.
Another happy memory was when the Easter bunny, Pam Crane, made appearances at the Easter egg hunt. Pam chaired the event in the 2000s and children and adults love seeing the Easter bunny come to life.
Through the years, there have been some changes that people have appreciated. “Originally, the eggs were hard-boiled eggs,” recalls Annie. Sometimes the wildlife got into the eggs. Fortunately, now that they have plastic eggs, the wildlife leaves the eggs alone. All eggs are also now recycled and used for the next year.
A Rich History
Annie and her family have lived in Rolling Hills for decades and love the connections and community in the neighborhood.
“We’ve been in our home since 1970,” says Dena. They moved in just two weeks before Christmas. Annie was just 6 years old when she moved into their house and has fond childhood memories of living here, attending Palos Verdes schools, and being active in neighborhood horse shows. This equestrian participated in Caballeros horse shows at Cab Ring in Western, English and Gymkhana events with her horse, Poco, bringing home the trophy! Growing up in Rolling Hills with nature and with animals was ideal for her. She went on to compete in the Pacific Coast Horse Association as a junior hunter/jumper rider.
Rolling Hills is near and dear to her heart. Dena and Annie have witnessed the changes in Rolling Hills over the last half century, particularly its popularity as becoming a sought-after place to live. “We’ve welcomed many new families in the neighborhood in the last 8 years,” comments Annie.
Annie and Dena are passionate about preserving the unique character of Rolling Hills and are involved in various community organizations, such as the Rolling Hills Community Association Board. Annie has served on the board for three years and sees it as a way to give back to the community that has been her home for almost her entire life. Dena has been involved in the Women’s Club for years and likes being integrally involved in the community.
We want to thank Annie and Dena for their heart for the community, creating an event that is a part of the fabric of Rolling Hills. They’ve created many smiles, laughter and fond memories through the years and many more to come!