For over half a century, the city of Lyndhurst in the eastern suburb of Cleveland has been home to a fun Easter tradition - Eggshelland, an elaborate mosaic made entirely from colorful eggshells put together by Ron and Betty Manolio in their front yard on Linden Lane.
The couple got the idea from Ron's mother who placed colored eggshells on the bushes in front of her home, every Easter. In 1957, Ron and Betty took that tradition up a notch by laying out a colorful cross made from 750 eggshells. So many people came by to admire their handiwork, that the couple decided to make it an annual tradition and Eggshelland was born! Over the years, the displays transformed into themed landscapes that featured things ranging from a traditional Easter bunny to the Statue of Liberty and even, the Flintstones family.
As you can imagine, it was not an easy endeavor to undertake. For one, the couple used real eggshells to assemble their giant displays. Ron began by making dime-size holes in the eggs and painstakingly shaking its contents. After that he carefully washed, trimmed and painted each one, using one of 24 brilliant colors of outdoor sign paint enamel. Once the eggshells were dry, they were carefully sorted by color and stored in batches of 250. Though the couple tried to be as careful as they could, they often ended up losing thousands of shells due to handling breakage or natural disasters like hail and ice storms.
This meant that as soon as the Easter display was done the couple got right back to work to replenish what they had lost. Also, as the displays became more elaborate their eggshell needs increased substantially. That meant that they had to seek out external sources. Fortunately, a nearby restaurant was happy to donate their eggshells if, Ron and Betty took the time to go and carve through them, every morning.
However the Manolios never wavered in creating what soon became a family affair as the couple's five children and then grandchildren, began helping out in the fun family tradition. Besides drawing in thousands of loyal fans, the display was also featured on many television shows and even became the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary called Eggshelland: The Movie.
But like all good things this one too, came close to ending when Ron passed away in 2012, and his wife Betty announced that 2013 would be the last Eggshelland display put on by the Manolio family. Thousands of people flocked to see what they believed to be the last colorful egg mosaic. Entitled 'A Labor of Love', it was put together by the Manolio grandkids as a tribute to their grandfather. Though sad to lose the 55-year-old tradition, one that many locals grew up with, everyone understood. After all, without Ron at the helm, who had time to keep up with the display that required thousand of perfectly maintained eggshells?
Fortunately, a local preservation group called 'Euclid Beach Boys', decided that Eggshelland was too important a tradition to lose and talked Betty Manolio and her family into allowing them to continue. While the 2014 display which opened on Saturday, April 12th, is not at its usual location on Linden Lane, it does comprise of many of the displays from Ron's 55-year-old collection. Whether Eggshelland will continue for another half century, is anybody's guess - but the locals are sure grateful to see it live, for one more year!