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Jones Lake State Park holds Easter Egg Hunt, marks state parks centennial

By: Erin Smith
There was excitement in the air at Jones Lake State Park on Saturday as the park held their annual East Egg Hunt and also were celebrating the centennial of the North Carolina state parks system.
There were about 433 people preregistered for the Easter Egg Hunt. Aside from the Easter Egg Hunt, there were also games, food and various displays. Displays at the event included the NC Highway Patrol, Bladen County Water Rescue, Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, Bladen County EMS, Elizabethtown Fire Department, the Booze It and Loose It campaign.
Park Superintendent Shane Freeman welcomed those in attendance and introduced NC State Parks Director Michael Murphy.
“It is a great day to be in a NC state park,” said Murphy.  
He also welcomed those in attendance to the Easter Egg Hunt and celebration.
“It all began at Mt. Mitchell,” said Murphy.
He described how the NC General Assembly was lobbied to protect Mt. Mitchell. Murphy said that the General Assembly eventually agreed to protect Mt. Mitchell and what would eventually become the state parks system was born.
Murphy said that 17.3 million people went to a NC state park last year which was an increase of over 3 million people.
He said that 130,000 folks visited Jones Lake State Park which was established in 1939. 
Jones Lake State Park was one of first seven parks to be built in NC, according to Murphy.  He said that in World War II the park has utilized by Camp Davis for air training. 
Jones Lake State Park is known for its Long Leaf Pines, said Murphy. In the 1700s the trees were harvested and used for tar, pitch and turpentine as a result all pines were harvested throughout state. 
The Long Leaf Pine forest is a habitat for the red cockaded wood pecker which is an endangered species.
Murphy also discussed briefly the Connect NC bond how the funds will be used to make further investments in the park. He said that $650,000 is earmarked for Jones Lake State Park to expand and improve the campground.
Of the $2 billion bond, there is included $75 million for state parks which will include improvements at all fo the state parks.
“Thank you to the entire Bladen County community,” said Murphy.
Next, it was time for the Easter Egg Hunt and the arrival of the Easter Bunny. The Egg Hunt was divided by ages and special eggs were hidden for each age group that held special prizes.
There were also games, free candy and a movie that detailed the history of the state parks.
One game that seemed to be the delight of many of the children, was the water in the canoe game. The game required taking a T-shirt, dipping it in water placed in the canoe, and running back to the starting part to wring the water out of the shirt into the contestant’s jar. The contest who fills their jar first won a canoe trip on Jones Lake later in the summer.
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