Jenna Wagner has daubed paint on little cheeks to create facepainted butterflies every year since Langley’s charity butterfly release started five years ago.
Last year the Port Coquitlam woman decided that she would take a moment away from her facepainting at the event to take part and release one of the gossamer flyers.
The butterfly release benefiting the Langley Hospice Society and the Langley Care Foundation has come to have a special meaning for her. Wagner’s died dad on the same day as the previous butterfly release two years ago.
“He passed away that evening. When I was done painting, I went to the Port Moody hospice and I was able to be by his side.”
Her dad had, in his 40s, survived a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In his 60s, he battled for two years before dying.
Wagner, with her four-year-old Lynden Seltzer and boyfriend Ian Smillie, found a quiet spot in the flower gardens at Krause Berry Farms where the event was held Saturday this year.
Lynden squealed when one of the painted lady butterflies emerged from its small cardboard carton and lit upon the front of her floral dress before making its way to some milkweed.
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On Saturday, the gardens and fields at Krause saw huge crowds and more than 460 butterflies released.
The butterflies sold out farther in advance this year than for the previous releases. Organizers are still tallying the event costs but the event has netted more than $10,000 for the two causes.
Most of the items needed are donated. The butterflies are purchased from a local breeder. Krause provides the venue and has added attractions such as fairy princesses and Batman impersonators, the facepainting, and more.
“It was wonderful to observe the success of the butterfly release,” said Michael Brown, chair of the Langley Care Foundation. “With a good crowd in attendance, it is clear that the popularity of the event is increasing and that the memories of the day are treasured by many families. Two local charities with important missions benefitted from a fantastic community turnout. We are grateful to sponsors like RE/MAX Treeland Realty and of course to the many other donors who were generous. Seeing so many smiling people all in one place, at one time, inspired us all.”
In the past the event featured a timed release of the butterflies but organizers now provide the bugs in their small cartons and let people do the release at their leisure.
“Everyone come’s for such different reasons,” noted Shannon Todd Booth, the the hospice society’s manager of communications and funds development. “We wanted to respect the fact that everyone has their own reasons.”
Some people take part in the butterfly release in honour of a deceased loved one while others use it as a celebration. Todd Booth said there have been birthday parties that took part.
Whatever the reason, the event is growing each year with huge crowds in addition to the many taking part in the butterfly release, and many people coming from throughout the Lower Mainland.
“This is our third time,” said Pitt Meadows mom Sue Pasha.
Her family releases butterflies to celebrate her mother overcoming serious illness.
“This event has been a fabulous collaboration from the very beginning,” said hospice executive director Nancy Panchuk. “It has been heartwarming to see the butterfly release grow each year and to see how the community comes together to participate in this poignant event in support of our two important Langley charities. With the support of Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery, the Langley Hospice Society and Langley Care Foundation staff and volunteers have helped create a special experience that provides an opportunity for individuals, friends and families to come together and create their own moment, in memory, in honour or in celebration.”