Fairy door tour of Ann Arbor sparks imaginations
Saturday's visit to some of the urban fairy doors in downtown Ann Arbor was a coup for both the youngsters and their accompanying Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Eight "littles" and eight "bigs" comprised the tour group.
Lisa Carolin | For AnnArbor.com
Their leader was local "fairyologist" Jonathan Wright, who took them to five of Ann Arbor's 10 accessible fairy doors located in the area of William, Liberty, Main and Ashley Streets.
"The existence of fairy doors sparks the imagination for kids and adults," said Wright, who says that public awareness of fairy doors and the number of doors is on the rise.
He taught the group about "fairy droppings," - or the gifts left behind at fairy doors - and said that fairies, based on the size of their doors, are 10 times smaller than people.
The fairy door event started and ended at Red Shoes on Ashley Street, where owner Catherine Thursby donated her studio and supplies to let the children create their own fairy doors after the tour.
"Since the shop's main focus is art and craft, I'm teaching the kids how to paint the doors and decorate them with glitter or other fancy embellishments," said Thursby.
"I think any time you can expose a child to art and the creative process that they man not normally have is a good thing. It gives them an outlet to express themselves."
The idea for Saturday's event came from Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer Margaret Schankler.
"Any time that matches get to spend together is a really positive thing for both the big and little," said Schankler. "Any opportunity to escape from the everyday and explore something magical is a happy thing.
"By making their own fairy door in the Red Shoes studio, they can bring a little of that magic home with them."
The kids bought into the fun, too.
"I believe that fairies are real after seeing the fairy doors," said Nyesha, a BBBS participant.
"I like knowing that you can find fairies in Ann Arbor," said Zaylah, also a BBBS participant.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County serves more than 500 kids and has more than 250 kids on its waiting list. Volunteers must be 18 or older, like working with kids, go through a screening process, and sign on for an 18-month commitment.
"We need people to provide a positive role model and be a supportive friend to a young person," said Angie Karwan, program supervisor for BBBS of Washtenaw County.
Washtenaw County's BBBS programs include the community-based program that's participating in today's fairy door tour, a school-based program where volunteers visit children as part of a mentoring program once a week, and site-based programs at two locations in Ypsilanti.