Do you really know Fairyland?

Last Thursday, Children’s Fairyland sponsored the luncheon of Oakland Rotary 3, the city’s most active service organization. The presentation was well received, and I’m proud and delighted to share it with you.
Here are 10 things you probably don’t know about Fairyland.

• We’ve been designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and we’re a key member of Oakland’s Pollinator Posse. The Posse involves our work in building a butterfly garden to make Oakland a monarch butterfly way station.
• For Cinco de Mayo, we rolled out Spanish recordings in all of our Magic Storybook boxes.
• We’ve held two very successful horticultural therapy field trips for special needy kids, because our gardens are a wonderland of sensual stimuli.
• We’re working with Beyond Emancipation and Youth Uprising to train and hire former foster youth from Oakland.
• Twenty-four children who have experienced trauma or have social or emotional problems are participating in our animal-friends program, an experience that builds empathy and self-confidence.
• Our newest attraction—a huge hit!—is Jack and Jill Hill. That’s right: it’s simply a hill that kids can run and roll around. We’ll be offering 15 scholarships to our summer camp for kids whose families otherwise couldn’t afford it.
• Another new attraction: our Pop-up Players, a troupe that performs live, interactive—and very silly—plays that teach math, literacy and social/emotional skills. Each play ends with a read-aloud, of course.
• Over the last two months alone, we’ve hosted 450 and 2,000 inner-city Oakland kids and their families at our theater for a San Francisco Shakespeare Festival production of Midsummer Night’s Dream and Head Start Day.

And finally:

• Did you know that there’s one animal at Fairyland who is not, as far as we know, tied to any of our storybook or fairytale sets?

Juan, our alpaca, has been with us for 19 years, and as Dick Nixon said about his dog Checkers in a famous speech, “Regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

That was 10 plugs for Fairyland.

Here’s one more: our annual fundraising Gala, “There’s No Place Like Fairyland,” will be held Thursday, June 6, under the stars at Fairyland. We’ll open the gates to our enchanting park to adults (only!) for an evening of fantasy and fun. Our fairy lights will twinkle, our performers will entertain, delicious food and drink will tantalize your taste buds, and live and silent auctions will offer a bounty of treasures. Wear your favorite fairy-tale or storybook attire and let troubles melt like lemon drops!

It’s not all costumes and frivolity, of course. The money we raise will help pay for Juan’s food and for all the great programs I’ve mentioned.

To register or donate, visit us at www.fairyland.org.

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