CHICAGO (WLS) --Thousands across the Chicago area celebrated Easter Sunday with Masses, egg rolls and even a visit from the Easter Bunny.
Easter in Chicago began with the traditional sunrise prayer service in Daley Plaza. Elsewhere, Christian churches celebrated the resurrection of Christ in their own way. At Salem Baptist Church, thousands of congregants came together to witness a re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, who led Mass at St. Columbanus Catholic Church, called the holiday a chance to put aside fears and reach out to each other.
"Coming to a place like this on Easter is the right thing to do to stand with folks who realize that their faith has to be put into action," Cupich said at the Park Manor neighborhood parish, which is known for its weekly food pantry that serves over 500 needy families.
"To see him come out to the South Side and bless us, it's a wonderful thing. It means a lot," said parishioner Gregory Slaughter.
"It was a breath of fresh air. I feel he brought hope to the community," said parishioner Kyle Holder.
Easter this year came as a difficult time for many across the region. Following the service, Cardinal Cupich acknowledged and addressed those fears.
"We have to make sure fear doesn't tear us apart as a nation where we begin to look at people as the other. As people who don't count. Whether it because of race, religion, or place of origin. We're all in this solidarity together. Easter is an occasion for us to put aside those fears and reach out to each other," Cardinal Cupich said.
EASTER BUNNY VISITS CHILDREN AT HOSPITAL
At Chicago's La Rabida Children's Hospital, the Easter Bunny brought gifts for the young patients.
Among the patients was 7-year-old Jalehn Chalmers, who suffered a massive asthma attack three months ago that left his brain deprived of oxygen.
Jahlen still has a tough time moving and speaking, and his mother - through tears - said the holidays are especially difficult.
"Because we are here in the hospital we aren't able to spend time with family the way we normally would," said Jahlen's mom, Crystal Coleman.
Each patient received a plush toy and a gift basket customized to their needs.
Dr. David Soglin, chief medical officer at La Rabida, said the young patients are often there for long periods.
"We try our best to make it as little like a hospital and as much like a home as we can," Soglin said.
So a little bit of joy, in the form of some Easter magic brought smiles and happiness during an otherwise very difficult time.
The Easter bunny only comes around once a year but the hospital has therapy bunnies available for patients every day which aim to help soothe the children during recovery.
EGG ROLL IN ROSELAND
A neighborhood association in Chicago's Roseland neighborhood set up a big Easter egg hunt for kids on Sunday.
One of the organizers said that there is so much crime in the neighborhood that they wanted to do something nice for the kids. Several businesses, including White Castle, donated goodies.
EASTER AT DRIEHAUS MUSEUM
An elegant Easter brunch was served at the Driehaus Museum in the city's Gold Coast neighborhood, just steps from the Magnificent Mile.
Live music was performed, and children enjoyed a reading of the classic "Peter Rabbit" and a visit by the Easter bunny.