Monday, March 25, 2013

An Eggcellent Tribute

For the Manolio family, January has always meant more than just the start of a new year.

Since 1957, January was for planning the year’s eggshell Easter display. January was for blueprint making and for deciding what colors to paint the eggs. January was for poking small holes in and collecting eggshells: from family members, from Perkins restaurant and, eventually, from the Sidewalk Café.

This year is different. This year, Ron Manolio won’t be decked out in his red jacket and blue scarf, cheerfully greeting Eggshelland’s visitors. This year is the final Eggshelland, themed "A Labor of Love" as a tribute to Ron.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
Right after Ron passed away last August, Betty Manolio explains, her children said, “We’ve got to do another (Eggshelland).”

The idea for Eggshelland came from Ron, who was as active within the community as he was around the house. “Everybody knew him,” Betty says. “He was the heart of Eggshelland, and I think we’re doing the right thing.”

A tradition that has persevered through a house move, hail storms, snow squalls and frozen ground, Eggshelland first featured about 750 eggshells but grew to include as many as 50,000. A display that started because few people decorated for Easter, has now received media attention from CNN, the Today show and Cleveland Magazine, and has been featured in a documentary.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
Each year, the Manolios — children, in-laws and, eventually, grandchildren — convened to place eggshells painted diligently by Ron on square, wooden pegs positioned perfectly in the yard, often with help from neighborhood kids.

The eggs in the Manolios’ lawn have formed many recognizable shapes: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the house with balloons from Up, and even the Cleveland Indians mascot after their 1997 American League Championship Series win.

“We were going to do the Browns, but they never did anything,” Betty jokes.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
This year, about 2,000 eggs read "Thank you all and goodbye" below a depiction of Ron’s face. In total, the display — which includes two Eggshelland staples: a 45-foot cross and the mascot bunny — boasts almost 20,000 eggs. Located at 1031 Linden Lane in Lyndhurst, it can be viewed now through April 5.*

Over the years, Betty says, parents who visited brought their children, then those children grew up and brought their children.

“I know people enjoy it — it’s a happy thing and it’s a good symbol of Easter,” Betty says. “It’ll be sad (that it’s the final Eggshelland), but it’s time. We had a good 55 years.”

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
*Update, 3/28: Eggshelland will stay up through April 5, the Friday after Easter. The Manolios are extending its run past April 1 because of the wintry weather earlier this week.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I'm not sure I'm going to be able to see it this year without tears. We were first introduced to Eggshelland through the documentary and haven't missed a year since. Seeing Ron and Betty each year was the real beginning of our Spring season.