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Butterfly release at Laurel Park benefits nursing home
Heather Brown looks up into the sky Saturday as she helps son Zackery, 5, set his butterfly free during a butterfly release and yard sale at Laurel Park. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

“The butterfly release is a legend,” said Sabrina Souders, one of the event coordinators of the Butterflies by the Lake festival. “You make a wish, and you release the butterfly, and your wish goes to the heavens.”

The festival, which was equipped with a live butterfly release, arts and crafts, yard sale, kids activities, and more was held Saturday at Laurel Park in honor of Bell Minor Home, a nursing home in Gainesville.

Renee Bielecki, staff development and acting director of activities at Bell Minor Home, said the event came about because the home wanted to take the residents on more outings and do more activities with them.

“We want to provide for their dignity and keep them doing some of the same things that they have been doing,” Bielecki said.

The event was free, but people could purchase items and food from vendors and participate in arts and crafts activities, as well as games for kids. All of the proceeds went to Bell Minor Home.

Bielecki said that she hopes to raise a few thousand dollars to rent buses for outdoor activities and purchase a new television for the 104 residents at the home who “love to watch TV and movies.”

Bielecki said Bell Minor currently has a vegetable garden, and the staff also is creating a butterfly garden. The home had its own butterfly release in its garden.

On Saturday, three dozen butterflies bought from a butterfly farm in Florida were ready to be released at 1 p.m. After the release, a butterfly gardening class was held with Bielecki as the instructor.

“Butterflies can smell the right plant two miles away,” Bielecki said. “If people plant the ones that the caterpillars eat, the butterflies will hang around and stay.”

Dutchman’s pipe and passion vine are two examples of plants that would attract butterflies.

While the parents were learning about butterfly gardening, kids could participate in wooden magnet butterfly decorating, cupcake decorating, a duck pool game, bean bag toss and a crazy hair booth.

Souders believes it is important for kids to learn about nature and learn to respect the environment, but she also thinks it is important to remember the needs of seniors.

“The elderly established this nation for us, so we need to think about them and support them and help them get out in the community,” Souders said.

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