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Sunday, April 4, 1999

JAPAN LITE

A hare-raising interview with the Easter bunny


Happy Easter. This morning, I bring you this exclusive interview excerpted from my unpublished book, "The Unauthorized Biography of Peter Cottontail."

Peter, can you tell me how you became the Easter Bunny? The profession has been in the Cottontail family for years. The first Easter Bunny is said to have been German, but the United States was the first country to promote the Easter Bunny for commercial purposes. Legend has it that my greatest great-grandfather had been unemployed for over a year and was barely making it when auditions for the Easter Bunny were held in New York City. He had a large family: 2116 children and over 10,000 grandchildren. His family encouraged him to try out for the part.

What was the audition like? There were three parts to the audition: the long jump, the 5-km dash and a mathematics test.

Why a mathematics test? Although all rabbits are good at multiplying, it takes a mathematical whiz to figure out the proper date of Easter Sunday each year. Most of the participants were jack rabbits, who are known for their jumping and sprinting ability. However, my greatest great-grandfather got the job as the Easter Bunny due to his mathematical genius.

How do you figure out the date of Easter Sunday? Easter Sunday is always one of 35 days between March 22 and April 25. It is figured according to a complex mathematical formula involving the Paschal Full Moon and the Ecclesiastical Full Moon date of the equinox date in A.D. 325 Or something like that. I'm not very good at math, so I just look for it marked on the calendar every year.

I see. Can you tell me about the origin of the Easter egg? Eggs have been colored and decorated at Easter for centuries. The eggs represent fertility and life.

But Easter eggs are unfertilized, aren't they?Yes, but that's just because a lot of hens these days are prochoice and won't let the males fertilize their eggs.

Peter, I've noticed angry hens on Easter mornings. Can you explain this? We try to get the hens to cooperate by donating eggs the week before Easter. But we never have enough egg donors, so sometimes we take eggs when the hens are still sleeping.

Um, but isn't it written in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not steal"? Yes, but there has been an amendment since then. Modern rabbits use a version of the Bible that has an asterisk next to that commandment indicating that rabbits are exempt.

How does the Easter Bunny tie in with Christianity and Easter? I'm sorry but I never discuss religion.

I see. So, it's just a job. That's right.

I've heard that you travel to Australia and other countries to deliver Easter baskets. How do you do most of your traveling? The old bunny trail disappeared long ago due to logging. Now I have a private helicopter. The helicopter allows me to visit other countries and also avoid quarantine.

Who pays for your helicopter? U.S. taxpayers.

Tell me about the preparations you do for Easter. The week before Easter is very busy of course. I tried to get funding for holiday help, like Santa did to get his elves. But I couldn't qualify for funding so I do everything myself with the help of my extended family. We take egg donations and I fly to Switzerland for the chocolate rabbits. The U.S. government has a contract with Brach's for the jelly beans so I pick up an extra large order from them. Bowing to pressure from environmental groups, we now use recycled plastic grass inside the Easter baskets. The plastic Easter baskets are hand-woven by peasants in South America.

So, now that your job is over for this year, what are you going to do next? Retire. I'm almost 10 years old now.

Who will take over as the Easter Bunny? My first son was in line for the job, but he was recently run over by a car. My oldest daughter is interested in the job but only under one condition.

What's that? That the Peter Cottontail song be remixed in a rap version.



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