Cape woman is queen of Easter bunnies

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

The following column first ran last April.

Maxine Boren is the queen of Easter bunnies.

They're everywhere in her front yard, most of them of the plastic, air-filled variety.

She has large ones and small ones. Her bunnies come in a variety of colors that complement the bright hues of the fake flowers that adorn her Easter yard. She grows real flowers too, but only after Easter and the bright bunnies have been deflated and stored away for another year.

For now, her yard is one big celebration of Easter. Large plastic Easter egg balloons hang from a tree. Smaller, plastic eggs hang from another tree. A sign in her front yard proudly proclaims, "Spring is in the hare." Behind every Easter queen there is an Easter king. In this case, it's her husband, Gerald, who patiently airs up all those rabbits.

It's a 20-year-old rite of spring that has turned their Sherwood Street yard in Cape Girardeau into a holiday attraction for the families in the neighborhood. Moms regularly slow down in front of the house so their children can get a good look at the rainbow-hued celebration of grinning Easter bunnies.

"You can't believe the people that stop here," she told me last week. "They just kind of slow down and look." She worries that her bunny bonanza could lead to a traffic accident. She hopes it doesn't, but she can't resist putting out just one more inflatable bunny.

Three days before Easter, she still had a few bunnies in reserve in her garage.

She's continued to collect Easter bunnies over the years, the decorations multiplying almost as fast as the real thing. "I kind of get carried away," she says.

At first, there are just a few bunnies staked out in the yard. Then, a few more. Before long, they're everywhere, bordering the driveway and congregating in the flower beds.

Maxine says she and Gerald take to the task a little at a time. That shouldn't be surprising. Maxine and Gerald are in their 70s. But their enthusiasm for Easter is forever young.

Our whole family loves the Easter yard. I pass it every day on my way to work. The colorful bunnies and the hanging eggs make me smile like a kid. We never tire of it.

My wife, Joni, refers to Maxine as Mrs. Easter. Becca and Bailey, call her simply the "Bunny Lady." They started bringing Easter presents to her three years ago as a way to thank her for her "yard work." She reciprocates, giving them Easter treats. This year's treats included chocolate bunnies and two inflatable bunnies -- a pink one for Bailey and a blue one for Becca.

Maxine says it's hard to keep those bunny ears from drooping, particularly on cold mornings. "We can never keep their ears up," she laments.

But the bunnies seem just fine to me when I'm gazing at them.

She's protective of her bunnies too. Wind storms can play havoc with them, she says.

But not even spring storms can ruin her yard's Easter charm.

There's something magical about all those plastic bunnies, the way they crowd around in the yard all wide-eyed and happy.

Those who pass by the Easter yard can't help but smile at the visual treat.

The Borens' handiwork simply shouts "Happy Easter" even though the bunnies never say a word.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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