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Come fly away at annual butterfly release
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Sunday in the Parks
Butterfly release and family-friendly activities
When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Wilshire Trails Park, Gainesville
How much: Free

On Sunday, children can gather at Wilshire Trails Park in Gainesville, carefully open a white envelope and watch a gentle soul come to life.

The 13th annual butterfly release is the centerpiece event at Sunday in the Parks, a day of family fun sponsored by the Friends of Parks and Greenways. There also will be paper boat races down the stream that meanders through the park, and families are encouraged to bring a picnic or grab a hot dog there.

Deb Gregson, vice president of Friends of Parks and Greenways, said the annual event is one way the group connects with the community.

There will be 1,500 painted lady butterflies in individual packets for the kids to open, precisely at 3 p.m.

"We decided to get more painted ladies than getting monarchs and painted ladies because monarchs are so expensive," Gregson said, adding that she enjoys the experience of watching the kids open the butterfly packets.

"We prefer to give them to the children, not the adults, because it's just a neat experience for them to watch them come alive," she said.

There will also be tables where kids can learn how to fold a piece of paper into a boat, and set it sailing down the stream.

"We show them how to make them and they get to color them and get to sail them down the stream," Gregson added. "It's a lot of fun; the kids love that because they get to walk in the water ... last year it was a little shallow."

The Northeast Georgia History Center will also have a tent set up, with representatives dressed in Cherokee and vintage military costumes teaching about Cherokee butterfly legends and summer camp programs.

Julie Carson, administrative coordinator with the history center, said it's a new experience for the center to move its family day events outside the center, located on the Brenau University campus.

The program is called Butterflies and Cherokee Legends, and there will be lessons about butterflies and gift bags for the kids, too.

"We're also distributing a legend of the butterfly and have pencils and tattoos to give away," Carson said. "It's going to be fun; we're excited."

All proceeds from the butterfly release - which is free, but food is available for purchase - will benefit Friends of Parks and Greenways as they enhance the greenway corridors in Hall County. The Rock Creek Greenway Corridor is expected to be completed by early summer, and the next project for the group is the Midtown Greenway, where a $100,000 Recreation Trails grant will help start work on an 11-acre tract of land in the midtown area of Gainesville.