ANDERSON — Many Madison County residents woke early on Sunday to attend Easter services.
David Long was among them, only his sanctuary was the Woodland Shelter at Mounds State Park.
For the past 22 years, the Anderson resident has presided over an annual Easter family reunion at the state park.
"I got up at 6 a.m. this morning, got my coffee and headed out here since it's first come, first served," Long said as little children darted around him and other adults, or waited to have their pictures taken with two older family members wearing rabbit outfits.
"We like this place because it's got electricity so we can plug in hot plates and stuff like that," he added. "If the weather's bad we've got a little bit of shelter; if it's cold we've got a little bit of heat. ... We have a fireplace at each end of this thing, which is really nice."
The tradition began when his own children were small. "We just wanted to get the kids out to do an Easter egg hunt," Long said. "The guys would go up early in the morning and usually the kids would get out of church between 1 and 2 p.m. and then we'd all meet out here."
The reunion grew steadily, however, with attendance hitting 125 people or more some years. This year, the number was a more manageable 75, he estimated.
In addition to the usual menu of ham, brats, hamburgers and plenty of hot dogs for the little ones, plus desserts, there are games and motorcycle rides for kids, which is usually a big hit.
"Now, all our kids have kids, so it's a whole new generation. We're trying to get the middle generation to do the cooking now," Long said. "I should be sitting back and taking it easy."