March went out with a swoosh and a puff, as a crowd of 2,000 gathered at James Park for the Great Marshmallow Drop. Spirits were high for the event, which the City of Evanston sponsored at a cost of $4,200.

City staff stuffed age-appropriate backpacks intended for all participants and coated the marshmallows with cornstarch. The point was to pick up but not eat them, and then to trade the found marshmallows for edible treats.

“Make sure everybody has at least one,” event organizer Lawrence Hemingway, Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Service
announced on the loudspeaker.

Three times a helicopter took off from Robert Crown on its mission to drop three bags of marshmallows for each of three groups. The first division, children 4 and under with their adult minders, waited for the signal to breach the yellow rope.

But the 5- through 8-year-olds and 9- through 12-year-olds broke away too soon and flooded the field. For safety’s sake the helicopter turned away, cargo intact, leaving a lot of disappointed hunters in its wake. Yet despite some pushing among older peers, certain of the smallest participants were quick to share their findings. The lines to claim a backpack were too long for many, but a number of little ones sported the silly sunglasses they found in theirs.

Though several loads of marshmallows went unspilled, three children found a Golden Marshmallow and won a Grand Prize. While most participants welcomed the chance to greet spring and their neighbors, the event was like a marshmallow itself – a puff of sweetness that left most people wanting s’more.