VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The Disney image of fairies like Tinker Bell scattered its glitter on the Fairy Magical Valentine’s Day held at Lynnhaven House in Virginia Beach recently.
But while children came to the event to get their face painted, to learn how to makes wands and to go on scavenger hunts and nature trails, a darker past to fairies was unearthed by the organizers of the event.
Hales Parcells, a 22-year-old gallery educator at Virginia Aquarium, grew up wanting to be a fairy and dressed as Tansy, a fairy for the event at Lynnhaven House.
“When I was younger I was really into the fact that fairies are hidden and they can be anywhere in the trees or hidden in the house. That’s got me really excited,” she said.
But when she did some research for the role she found fairies were not so benign.
“In the past, particularly in medieval times, fairies were seen as dark spirits,” she said. “They were spirits of the dead. People thought fairies would come in and replace their babies with evil monsters. A lot of the folklore is terrifying,” she said.
Fairies were not depicted as being able to fly until the late 18th century when illustrators and artists started to give them butterfly-like wings and made them beautiful.
Kirby Talbert, another gallery educator at the aquarium, dressed up as a fairy named Flora for the Valentine’s event. She said Disney had made fairies attractive to young girls.
“A lot of people are attracted to fairies because they are happy and sparkly and fun and cute. A lot of the little ones are attracted to the pink and sparkly hearts on Valentine’s, so they go together,” she said.
Karen Burns, an education specialist at the aquarium, said the event included a number of activities such as nature bingo in which leaves and other items were collected from the Lynnhaven House grounds.
“There is not a real tie in between fairies and Valentine’s Day but we thought that Valentine’s Day conjured up those images of love and that fun playfulness that I think fairies demonstrate too,” she said.
A.J. Evans traveled from Norfolk to Lynnhaven House with his five-year-old daughter Alonna and her friend. He said the girls are obsessed by fairies.
“As soon as they came in they started pointing them out on the wall.” He said the magic of fairies attracted the kids “not to mention that every movie that comes out these days has fairies in it.”
Jorja Jean, a volunteer at the event, said, “Every woman knows when they were a little girl, they were a fairy. Somewhere along the way we lost our wings when we grew up but every little girl has a fairy inside her.”
Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com
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