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Annual butterfly release returns to Wilshire Trails on May 20
0510 Butterfly
The 22nd annual Friends of the Parks Butterfly Release takes place Sunday, May 20, at Wilshire Trails in Gainesville. - photo by Time file photo

The air in Wilshire Trails Park will be filled with 1,500 butterflies on Sunday, May 20, for the 22nd annual Friends of the Parks Butterfly Release. 

Each child attending will be able to release at least one butterfly.

“We try to give all the butterflies to the children first, and then if we have any more we can give to adults,” said Andy Stewart, president of the Friends of the Parks board. 

The event is  a major fundraiser for Friends of the Park through sales of butterfly-related items and other merchandise. The money is used for the park and 

for education.

“We also give out butterflies to second-grade classes in the Gainesville system, and they get to see the life cycle of the butterflies, and we actually donate those to the science teachers and local elementary school so they can be a part of the experience,” Stewart said.

The butterfly release is popular with the community, so expect a crowd, said Julie Butler, marketing manager at Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

“If the weather is pretty, we expect at least 3,000 people,” Butler said.

The event will also feature face painting and paper sailboat races, and of course, visitors can take advantage of the trails. 

“People love to walk the trails of the Rock Greenway and play on the playground and in the creek,” Butler said. 

But the butterflies are the main attraction. 

“It is amazing to see everyone’s faces when the butterflies wake up and begin to take flight,” said Butler. “It is a great way to bring people together and appreciate our parks system and the value it has on our lives.”

Friends of the Parks is a volunteer-based organization that raises awareness for the park, and “whose advocacy and fundraising is responsible for much of what the Rock Creek Greenway has become today,” Butler said.

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