PEORIA - Thousands of valley residents packed into the Peoria Sports Complex for the 38th Annual Dolly Sanchez Memorial Easter Egg Hunt.
But the Sanchez family is quick to remind people that it all started back in 1976 as a small gathering for families in their Peoria neighborhood.
"It started off at Varney Park just with the neighborhood kids,” said Chantel Sanchez, the granddaughter of Dolly. “And then it kept growing and growing and then went to seven different parks, and we just got too big.”
Indeed it did. And four generations later, it continues to grow into much more than a Easter egg hunt, adding pony rides and inflatable slides to the mix as well.
"We're in the biggest venue here in Peoria in the sports complex, and this is where it's going to stay for quite some time,” said Peoria City Councilman Jon Edwards.
Dustin Westby came with his wife and kids and says it’s great to see so many people coming together to the complex, which also serves as a Spring Training Facility for Major League Baseball.
"There's not been a whole lot that's bringing people together, that we've seen other than a sporting event, but it's not as personal as something like this,” said Westby.
Which means Dolly’s mission of bringing the community together, still lives on. It’s something the family hopes to carry on for many years to come.
“And thank you to her, for her showing her heart to the community and continuing to do and make her legacy proud,” said Chantel.
Today’s event was free to all ages. Canned goods were also donated to the event, which were given to the St. Mary’s Food Bank.