Fairies, pirates invade McKee Botanical Garden

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A sure sign of the arrival of spring here is the sighting of fairies throughout McKee Botanical Garden, Vero Beach’s own enchanted forest. On Saturday, hundreds of the tulle-clad creatures, many with wings, gathered for the fourth annual Fairy Festival, an event that helps to bring young people to the garden, in order to nurture their love of nature.

Located off of Indian River Boulevard and US 1, McKee is a verdant respite from technology and high priced, far away theme parks.

Fairies were not the only fantasy creatures represented at the festival, which was sponsored by Alex MacWilliam, Inc. Real Estate, the Charlotte Terry Real Estate Group, and YP Advertising Solutions. Swashbuckling pirates, some with painted on beards, traipsed through the garden, scavenger hunt list in hand, searching for elusive treasures.

Costumes were not mandatory, but the wee folk, and some very creative grown up volunteers, dressed in gorgeous, bright colored ethereal creations. Flower wreaths were de riguer, as were wands and sparkly shoes. For those who forgot their fairy and pirate gear, the Pixie Boutique had all the necessary accessories.

Families wandered along rambling paths, stopping to make wands, get faces painted, have their nails done by older volunteer fairies, or to get a scary, temporary tattoo.

Magic pervaded the air, especially in the Hall of Giants, where volunteers displayed the gnome homes they had created. Gnome Homes are believed to bring good luck to one’s garden and help the trees, flowers and plants to grow.

Several volunteers assisted the fairies and pirates, as they made their own, out of twigs, shells, rocks, and other natural materials, at the “Gnome Depot,” in the shade of the rows of massive Royal Palms.

Glitter, games, and crafts were the order of the day. Sprites flitted from the maypole to the wishing bush. They tried their hands at making fairy ribbon twirlers and pirate picture frames. Several little pirates were seen whipping each other with the ribbon twirlers, much to the chagrin of their fairy sisters. The Showbirdz Parrots and the Christi’s Dancers entertained the dazzling crowd.

Children enjoyed the sunny day, along with the chance to move around and express themselves.

“McKee’s Fairy Festival combines fantasy and folklore with nature,” explained McKee Executive Director Christine Hobart. “It promotes creativity and imaginative play among children, and allows families to experience the Garden in a whole new way.”

McKee Botanical Garden is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to nurture and enhance a historic garden in a unique tropical setting for the education, enjoyment and enrichment of all.

McKee Botanical Garden is located at 350 US Highway 1 in Vero Beach. General admission fees are $12 adults, $11 seniors and $5 children ages 3 to 12.

Admission is free for McKee members and children under 3. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon to 5 p.m. The Garden is closed Mondays.

As the day came to an end, smiling fairies and pirates paraded before their parents and grandparents, and volunteers handed out coloring books and bubbles to tired, hungry, and happy wood nymphs, who looked ready for a nap.

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