When eager kids rush in to enjoy Dos Picos Regional Park’s annual egg hunt Saturday in Ramona, they’re going to find an extra-special treat, thanks to an Eagle Scout and a County park ranger.
Kids will be greeted by a life-sized version of Candy Land — one of the most popular children’s games of all time — and its characters, from King Candy to Jolly Dino and Mr. Mint.
Just like the board game, children will get to race each other along red, green and blue squares, by the Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain, to reach the Candy Castle.
Only now, instead of moving tokens on a board, the children themselves will move from square to square on a playing area roughly the size of a tennis court, collecting candy along the way from life-sized, hand-painted characters.
The giant game was a collaboration of sorts of Dos Picos County Ranger Kyle Icke and David Friend, a 15-year-old Mira Mesa High School student who was looking for a challenging community service project to become an Eagle Scout.
Icke came up with the idea. Friend — with a little help from his friends — created the game.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank that any Boy Scout can achieve. But to earn the rank, scouts must plan and complete an ambitious project that not only benefits the community, but requires them to show, among other things, leadership and planning skills. Eagle Scout candidates have to develop a written project plan, present it to the organization and Scout leader, raise the necessary funds and build the project.
Friend knew another Boy Scout who had worked with Icke on a previous Eagle Scout project, and approached the ranger.
For his part, Icke said when Friend asked if he any ideas for a community service project, he remembered a life-sized Candy Land game that someone built for the city of Coronado’s recreation department.
“They had it for years and years,” Icke said, “I was really envious and I thought it would be nice to have one in my park.”
Friend said he was immediately intrigued. He remembered playing the game as a child and he was looking for something more challenging than making a kiosk or park bench.
“I wanted it to be special and to be remembered for something,” Friend said.
It took Friend and selected fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 1203 nearly a year — 388 combined work hours — and $802 they had to raise themselves to complete the game. All of the life-sized characters were hand-painted.
Icke said he plans to use the game for numerous events at Dos Picos, at Halloween when they have their “haunted trail” event, or when they show movies in the park.
But first, Friend will get to see the game played for the first time at Saturday’s egg-hunt, something he said he’s been waiting for.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work and I’ll be happy to see it being enjoyed by so many little kids.”
Editors Note: Dos Picos Egg Hunt and Candy Land exhibit will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 7. Activities are free; donations accepted and parking is $3.