What are the pitfalls of dropping 10000 Easter eggs full of candy
March 24, 2021 8:29 AM   Subscribe

So this church is going to drop 10,000 Easter eggs full of candy from a helicopter. What could go wrong? I immediately started wondering if there was a risk that wildlife and dogs would choke on the eggs and particularly the candy inside, because I am no fun. (The pandemic issues are separate).

It's this event, and it's fairly near where I live. Am I worrying for nothing?

My web searches are only turning up lists of things that dogs might choke on, and advice about feeding/not feeding wildlife.

There are a lot of eagles and deer in the area, and it's adjacent to a large reservoir lake and a "nature reserve" with a lot of wildlife -- I can walk to this place.

I have to wonder how they can even control where the eggs drop from a helicopter -- and how many will pop open? Are they going to tape shut each egg?

A fictional example of a helicopter-drop holiday event gone wrong.

Can anybody link to credible articles about wildlife choking hazards? It seems unrealistic to think all the eggs will be found/collected.
posted by amtho to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW, I've heard about these sorts of things happening for years, to the point that I suspect there's gotta be good word-of-mouth between organizations on planning and lessons learned. Like, you're super into dramatic events, so you call up the group that made the news for renting the helicopter last year?

Here's a random DuckDuckGo search result with a 22-page manual on how to run an egg drop. Sounds like that event dropped the eggs on a roped off area of a field, so odds seem decent that everything would be found.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:34 AM on March 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: The location is a building, a parking lot, and woods. Doesn't look like there's a lawn anywhere near it, and the event listing says that the location is their "Durham campus" which is what I described.
posted by amtho at 8:39 AM on March 24, 2021

They drop them low (like maybe 50 feet off the ground? IDK). The vast majority of the plastic eggs don't even open. I've been to a few, maybe 5-6 over the years.

What could go wrong?

Well, the guy dumping them leans out over the side of a moving helicopter, so just make sure that seatbelt is tight.
Also they typically do them in a stadium or other field in a populated area.

On the ground, parents trample small children (likely -I've seen it happen).
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:42 AM on March 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Oh my god the plastic creation and waste is killing me, just so Christians can honour a pagan ritual badly. Why are churches trying to kill the planet!

Generic plastic argument, including that animals consume it.
Wildlife over waste

I just learned this has happened in my province too. I am going to try to make this socially unacceptable. I'm not sure there's a better logical argument though.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2021 [40 favorites]

If you're concerned about the Powers that Be taking you seriously becuase of wildlife, then maybe a "think of the children" approach might be better, and may not even require any "proof" - innocently ask "would that be dangerous if one of those eggs hit a kid on the head" or something.

Whether or not you find an article about whether that's happened, now you will have planted a tiny seed of doubt into people's heads....and tiny seeds of doubt happen to be pretty tenacious when planted in a "but what about the children" mindset.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 AM on March 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

Am I worrying for nothing?

Maybe? The egg events I've attended don't leave more mess (maybe less? kids are vicious) than any other sort of event, although I've never been to one done with a helicopter. If you are concerned about this, I would suggest attending this year's event, documenting any issues you see, and following up with the church and local authorities on your concerns.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:04 AM on March 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

I would be concerned about any wildlife or pets that may find the candy. Chocolate and xylitol are known to be toxic (depending on the dose and the individual animal) to dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, foxes etc. And as this is taking place in a partly wooded location it seems super obvious to me that some of the eggs won't be found by people but by wildlife.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 9:07 AM on March 24, 2021 [17 favorites]

I love Easter candy and bunnies and all that stuff, and I am also someone who'd be heartbroken to see wildlife choking to death on plastic garbage.

There is extremely no need to cop an anti-Easter attitude here and snot about weird rituals, etc. I do think it's reasonable to ask your church's management to take a good hard look at its environmental impact and the kind of stewardship it wants to stand for, and think about how sad it would be to find choked animals. I can tell you that my congregation has been taking great pride (and markets aggressively) about running a paperless office, running an environmentally low impact facility, etc. I agree with the comment above that observing carefully this year, and then making a fact-based report next year, is probably the way to go.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:08 AM on March 24, 2021 [31 favorites]

The last big egg hunt I went to I spent watching squirrels grab eggs, run up trees, gnaw the eggs open and eat the candy inside with ninja like skills. By the time the hunt was over one furry guy had managed to down 10 eggs worth of candy. It was only after the hunt I found out that chocolate can kill squirrels, so that cute memory got tainted fast.
posted by wwax at 9:20 AM on March 24, 2021 [9 favorites]

I have seen a helicopter drop that at the end of the event two dozen (maybe more) volunteers spread out in a line across the drop area and slowly walked from one end to the other picking up anything they found. Turns out they left the field area in better shape than when it started. Many cans and bottles were picked up.

This was in the Adirondacks so it was an area that is highly environmentally regulated and with lots of wildlife. (and often regulations are ignored, but).
posted by AugustWest at 10:00 AM on March 24, 2021 [6 favorites]

The contents of the eggs will not stay on church property. Squirrels will spread the contents far and wide. If the eggs contain items with substances toxic to dogs (chocolate, raisins, xylitol) those items will end up in nearby back yards. Things my dog has found in my own yard that definitely did not come from me: a slice of raisin bread, a cooked chicken bone, a cooked pork or beef bone, half a plastic Easter egg.

(I would just like to add: Are you fucking kidding me.)
posted by HotToddy at 10:08 AM on March 24, 2021 [18 favorites]

Helicopters are a hot mess for fuel consumption.

The last suburban easter egg hunt I had anything to do with was so closely regulated that the individual eggs were GPS located when they were hidden, and the organizer did a sweep afterwards of all those locations. Admittedly the environmental concerns were likely only 50%, the other half was that the organizer really liked candy and ate all the ones he found afterwards.
posted by scruss at 10:16 AM on March 24, 2021 [6 favorites]

This is among the worst ideas I have ever heard of. I can't believe this is a thing. Polluting, wasteful, poisononous to pets and wildlife, where do you even start? What the hell kind of lesson for kids is this? I guess more constructively I'd start with an environmental impact assessment and maybe ask some relevant local environmental groups.
posted by tardigrade at 10:25 AM on March 24, 2021 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Let's be clear that there's still a pandemic and I'm not planning to attend an event with a bunch of families, children, and probably older people -- a staple of church membership historically -- especially if the children are focused on hunting eggs rather than social distancing, and their parents will probably be paying more attention to the kids than to social distancing.

Also, just letting the barely-not-endangered eagle population in the nearby lake choke on candy for one year doesn't leave me feeling peaceful.
posted by amtho at 10:31 AM on March 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oh you're in IL. You could contact the IL EPA, the fed EPA in Chicago, or perhaps the INHS, (whose mission is to be a 'guardian' of the state's biological resources) with your concerns. They may not be able to do much but I'm sure they'd like to know about it.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

You could put together your own cleanup event immediately following to go look through the woods for their trash. Then dump it on their front steps.
posted by bleep at 10:58 AM on March 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, sorry, I'm in Durham/Chapel Hill, NC. Need to change my location.
posted by amtho at 11:03 AM on March 24, 2021

Response by poster: I'm a little worried about stuff getting stuck in trees. With that many eggs, they'll probably land in at least half the squirrel and bird nests, etc. - and the land there is all wooded, no lawn at all.
posted by amtho at 11:04 AM on March 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

I'd also be worried about what kind of havoc those things will play if they get into the sewer system. Is the city prepared to have these things wash into storm drains? This is a huge amount of plastic garbage that will be a hazard for years to come if every last piece isn't immediately found. How are they getting around littering laws?
posted by quince at 11:05 AM on March 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, their parking area is _vast_. Maybe they're going to drop the eggs on the asphalt?
posted by amtho at 11:15 AM on March 24, 2021

Then they'll break open. And since a church is sponsoring the event, this is an example of what might be inside of them: more plastic, tiny "He Is Risen" figures.
posted by Rash at 11:27 AM on March 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That's the cutest Jesus I've ever seen.

I'm feeling a lot of things now.
posted by amtho at 11:41 AM on March 24, 2021 [10 favorites]

I think it’s ok to call the church and ask some of these questions/express your concerns. Who knows, you may be one of many people whose eyebrows have been raised and whatever faction at the church that objected to this—and there is one—is hoping for some community engagement. Church politics are complex, often bitter, and almost never truly democratic; what seems like an event representing an entire church is often just the brainchild of whoever happens to be in power on a particular committee that year. At least if you contact them you’ll get some answers about the particulars.
posted by corey flood at 11:44 AM on March 24, 2021 [10 favorites]

Thank you for posting the WKRP turkey drop. I needed that.
posted by chuke at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2021 [4 favorites]

I would bring up the risk to dogs if you call them as surely some of the people involved are or know dog owners. Like HotToddy, I find all kinds of garbage around that squirrels and birds bring and I’m always having to pull potentially dangerous crap out of my puppy’s mouth. People may not realize that garbage just doesn’t stay where you leave it.
posted by vanitas at 12:03 PM on March 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

10,000 eggs is a LOT- how many kids are coming? Do the math and make sure the number is reasonable.
Over a field and parking lot seems not that bad to me (car dents tho)
But over woods sounds absolutely terrible and I would try to shut that down. They'll just get stuck in tree branches and then linger for years, fall down in a few months long after the contents have spoiled, kids or animals might eat the contents, garbage in the woods, etc.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

I agree, while the whole idea sounds bad I'd focus on trying to get them to at least modify this, especially no dumping in the woods!!! These could get stuck in trees, knock actual birds nests apart, etc. A parking lot will still be a mess, but at least should be easier to clean up.

Since you're in the research triangle, you might also try emailing some people in the nearby environmental studies departments - they may be willing to lend their expertise/weight (for whatever it's worth). You could also point them to the most recent John Oliver segment on how we are producing way too much plastic, but I'm guessing they've already ordered all the eggs.
posted by coffeecat at 2:09 PM on March 24, 2021

Response by poster: FYI a friend e-mailed them this afternoon, asking about this. She was told that they were going to do the drop into the parking lot. I just hope that they are willing to modify things if it's windy, and that the eggs will be low enough/controlled enough that they don't spill into the woods.

Thank you all for supporting my concerns.

I really, really hate plastic, but I just.
posted by amtho at 5:46 PM on March 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I swear to god I thought Easter Eggs could bounce.
posted by Beholder at 9:51 AM on March 25, 2021 [7 favorites]

The first thought that came into my mind is that if one or more of the eggs hit someone in the head, that might hurt *a lot.*
posted by merejane at 3:41 PM on March 25, 2021

Aren't there any anti-littering laws? This sounds like it would fall under that.
posted by gakiko at 10:31 AM on March 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

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