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19:30 - 11 March, 2005
Easter Bunny No More?

Mall bunnies hunt for neutral names
By Tim O'Meilia

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Easter Bunny is a vanishing breed.

Not that there's a shortage of 6-foot white rabbits carrying baskets of colored eggs. It's just that Mr. Shopping Mall Bunny is becoming more politically correct.

The bunny at The Gardens mall Easter egg hunt last weekend oops, make that just plain "egg hunt" was called Garden Bunny.

"The name just complemented The Gardens of the Palm Beaches," mall Marketing Director Jeannie Roberts said.

Saturday, Baxter the Bunny is available for photos at the Mall at Wellington Green. At Town Center in Boca Raton, Peter Rabbit will hand out goodies and pose for pictures.

"Because we're such a multicultural community, it's good just to remain neutral," mall General Manager Sam Hosen said.

Some stick with tradition. The Easter Bunny still appears at the Boynton Beach Mall and at Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach. The Palm Beach Mall has no bunny at all.

"I suppose the name Easter Bunny is fairly unusual. We have Easter eggs too," Boynton Beach Mall Manager Andrea Horne said. "I know it's probably not the popular thing to call it."

The rabbit's name seems to have little effect on shopping habits. "I'm not really sure how religious the bunny is," The Gardens' Roberts said.

She's right. The origin of the Easter Bunny dates to the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Oestre or Eastre, whose mythical companion was the ultimate symbol of fertility, the hare.

Over the centuries the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus became entwined with the pagan celebration of the annual rebirth of life each spring. German immigrants brought the Easter rabbit across the Atlantic in the late 1800s, and he's become the secular symbol of the Easter season.

The Garden Bunny may be as accurate as any. Said Roberts: "The name has always worked for us."


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