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Scuba diving with the Easter Bunny

DiverWire.com Florida correspondent Lisa Mongy reports on an “egg-citing” dive yesterday in Key Largo.

Easter morning is celebrated a variety of ways.  For many it’s getting up early for a sunrise service, an egg hunt on the fresh spring grass, or just a simple family gathering.  If you live in south Florida or are there on vacation, you have another option: throw on your favorite swim suit and jump on a boat.  Preferably with the Atlantis Dive Center in Key Largo to head out to a special reef and Egg-splore the depths.  There you will look for real hand painted (non-toxic) hard boiled (environmentally friendly) eggs, dropped off by none other than the world famous Easter Bunny and his helpers.

For the last 11 years Captain Spencer Slate has been hosting a “spring into the diving season” underwater egg hunt.  He dons an extra large bunny suit, throws on his SCUBA equipment, including a special yellow mask, and hits the grass beds.  Slate is quite well known and entertaining.  In addition to his Easter hi-jinks, he dons a yearly santa suit complete with red mask, performs numerous underwater weddings, and has a weekly “Creature Feature” fish feed with his infamous blue mask.

So, when people hear he’s got something going, on they come in planes, trains and cars to be there.  Boomer from Deep Six Divers Services in Lakeland charters a whole boat specifically for Slates event.  They leave the dock before 7:30 am, do a first dive then hit the egg hunt for dive two.  Other boats have family units often spanning three generations just for this dive.  Guests hop down the trail from just down the street to across multiple states and countries, New Orleans, North Carolina, Michigan, Canada and Germany attended this year.  In fact, Atlantis had so many people they used three boats and borrowed another one from a neighboring shop.

This is truly a fun family and community event.  Slates daughter, Sky, and her friends spent Saturday night coloring and decorating 240 eggs.  His son, Hunter, entertained passengers and prepped egg baskets for the helpers.  Meanwhile Sky got to work hopping around the underwater grass beds hiding the eggs with the Easter Bunny.  Once everything was in place it was time for Mr. Bunny to go to work guiding snorkelers and divers alike making sure everyone got at least one egg all while posing for pictures and keeping everyone amused.  All participants got a goodie-bag of community donated items. Special grand prize baskets were given for one child and one adult.  Slate donates the proceeds to a local charity, Kids in Special Situations (KISS).  Feel free to check them out at: www.kisstrust.org

Once the egg hunt winds down, everyone climbs back on board their vessels.  Many continue on to visit the “Christ of the Abyss”.  Where they jumped back in to enjoy the beautiful blue water and almost 9 foot, 4,000 pound, bronze statue of Jesus that sits in 25’ of water off the Key Largo Dry Rocks.

The annual Underwater Egg Hunt is a special event water buff’s thoroughly enjoy and look forward to every year.  Mark your calendar for 2011!  If you would like more information on diving with Captain Slate’s Atlantis Dive Center please check out their website: www.captainslate.com or call them at 305-451-3020.

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