There’s something special about seeing 1,500 butterflies released into the sky at once, and that’s what makes the annual Friends of Gainesville Parks and Greenways’ Butterfly Release an event you don’t want to miss.
Back for its 23rd year, the event will run 1-4 p.m. Sunday, May 19, at Wilshire Trails Park.
“The kids get the biggest kick out of it,” said Andy Stewart, president of the board for Friends of Gainesville Parks and Greenways.
Each child will receive an envelope with a painted lady butterfly inside to release at 3 p.m.
“(The butterflies) arrive to us on the Friday before the event in coolers and we keep them at a certain temperature,” said Julie
23rd-annual Butterfly Release
When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19
Where: Wilshire Trails Park, 849 Wilshire Road, Gainesville
How much: FreeMore info: https://www.gainesville.org/friendsoftheparks
Butler Colombini, marketing and communications manager for Gainesville Parks and Recreation. “We take them out several hours before the event so they start to wake up and so by the time it’s 3 p.m., as soon as we open the envelopes and the light and air hits them, they’re awake and they fly. It’s amazing.”
Throughout the event, children and families will get to learn from and interact with different exhibitors like the Hall County Master Gardeners about different aspects of nature.
“It’s a fun event, but it’s also to get families and kids outdoors,” Stewart said. “Our parks system is great and this is just one way we highlight it.”
There will also be facepainting and paper sailboat races for the kids to enjoy.
The event is rain or shine. The butterflies have to be released, so if it rains, Butler Colombini said everyone gathers under the pavilion at the park.
“We still have to release the butterflies,” Butler Colombini said. “We have to set them free.”
Stewart said he took his 16-year-old daughter to the event when she was 3- or 4-years-old. It was a fun event back then and has been growing ever since. He said the crowd “is definitely bigger.”
“It is a signature event for Gainesville,” Stewart said. “Seeing the butterflies released and seeing the smiles on the kids faces is worth the trip alone.”
There will be a shuttle from Gainesville High School that will take attendees to and from the event. They’re hoping the rain stays away so everything goes smoothly. If it does, Stewart said the event is one you’ll always remember.
“When it comes off perfectly … it’s quite a site to see,” Stewart said. “And seeing all the smiles on the kids faces is awesome. And even the parents who take them there enjoy it.”