40,000 Easter eggs on the front lawn – The story of “Eggshelland”

Eggshelland: A unique Easter display that started in 1957 can still be seen today, thanks to the people preserving its history.

NOTE: This article first appeared in 2019. Due to COVID-19, the display will not be presented in 2020.

When you think of going all-out with holiday decorations, what comes to mind? Christmas? Halloween? For Ron Manolios of Lyndhurst Ohio, Easter was the time to pull out all the stops. He created decorative installations out of brightly colored eggs that covered his lawn. Real eggs. From 1957 until 2013. At its peak, over 40,000 eggs were on the Manolios’ front yard.

Ron created his first egg installation when his Mother-In-Law asked if he would put an Easter decoration on the front lawn. Using thin dowel rods and hand-painted eggs, Ron created a huge cross outside their home. People would slow their cars down and parents would bring their families to the house. What started as one piece became a yearly tradition that only grew in its ambition.

Building the vision

How do you collect over 40,000 eggs? The Manolios went to local restaurants that served omelets, and asked them if they would break their prepped eggs from the bottom, and save the shells. Each morning, the Manolios would drive around, collecting eggs. The eggs would be stored for future use in the basement.

When new egg designs were decided on, the eggs would go to Ron’s workbench, where they would get a coat (or two) of “One Shot” sign painters paint. The paint was weatherproof, bright, and made the eggs sturdy under unpredictable Cleveland weather. The eggs, with their one-sided opening, would rest on dowel rods attached to a base.

Some pieces would return year after year (the cross, a basket-carrying Easter bunny, and the three-panel EGGSHELLAND signage), and were achieved with pegs attached to a Styrofoam base. When the Easter season was over, the eggs would be removed, sorted and stored for next year. Box upon box of colored eggs were stored in the basement, attic, garage and closets.

Other egg installments were only displayed for one season. These were massive egg mosaics (which were never, but should have been, called mosa-eggs) achieved by Betty carefully creating a grid pattern that would determine which eggs went where. The Manolios would then lay pegboards – large sheets of wood with lines of holes drilled in them – and insert the dowels into the holes of the pegboard. Ron invented a device that would put the rods into the ground at the perfect, level height. After lifting the pegboard, it was time to place each egg in its proper spot, according to the drawings.

Preserving a legacy

When Ron passed away in 2013, the family created one last display in front of the house: a portrait of Ron, smiling peacefully.

It looked like Eggshelland was going to fade into memory, but a group of Cleveland amusement history-loving individuals called “The Euclid Beach Boys”, led by Joe Tomaro and John Frato, reached out to the family in hopes that they could re-display some of the pieces.

The Manolios were enthusiastic about the idea, and allowed Tomaro and Frato complete access to their collection.

During the Easter season, you can see some of the Eggshelland creations at the Richmond Town Square Mall (691 Richmond Rd, Richmond Heights). Whether you grew up with it as a piece of your Easter season tradition or not, it’s truly a unique thing to behold.

NOTE: This article first appeared in 2019. Due to COVID-19, the display will not be presented in 2020.

Need an Easter season craft that’s a little less intense than a yard of eggs? Here’s how to make a Bunny Head Candy Holder out of an egg carton.