When Dan O’Hara downsized to an apartment at Halcyon two years ago, he thought he wouldn’t get the chance to play in a big yard again. That all changed when he found a “perfectly green grotto” off the Big Creek Greenway by Halcyon that was “just asking to become a fairy village.”
“Downsizing to an apartment took a little bit of getting used to, but [the Halcyon Fairy Village] helped a lot because I wasn’t working in the yard, but I was definitely playing out here,” O’Hara said. “I can be outside and live in an apartment and still have fun without having to mow the grass.”
O’Hara said he was inspired by the fairy village on Sawnee Mountain that a Girl Scouts troop created years prior. He said he used to hike the mountain and visit the village with his daughter when she was younger.
He began the project in August, finding some old tree trunks and placing them around the grotto, making platforms for fairy houses to balance on.
One of the first houses was made by O’Hara’s nieces and nephew.
“[My niece] said it should be sparkly to attract the fairies, and the other one of the girls said, ‘Well I’d like it pink and yellow because those are my favorite colors.’”
“It needs to be camouflaged from our enemies,” O’Hara said his nephew said.
“So, one side of it had a lot more camo on it and the other side is all pink … it’s a little bit worse for wear now, but it’s one of my favorite houses that we’ve had.”
Over time, the Halcyon Fairy Village has grown to about 15 to 20 different houses and structures built out of rocks, sticks and other knickknacks. O’Hara said most of the time, houses and decorations appear spontaneously through the week.
“I love it when I come out here [and see one I’ve] never seen … before,” O’Hara said. “That’s always really fun to see new things out here.”
Some of themes people have chosen include the Gnome Depot, a community ‘shop’ where kids and visitors can take decorations from or add items for others to use.
O’Hara also made garland out of twine and pinecones in the shape of Pleiades, a constellation known in mythologies as being the seven sisters or in some cases fairies.
“When I heard it was the seven fairies, I knew we had to have a Pleiades,” O’Hara said.
Residents Tinkerbell, Gerald the gnome and Woody, the 15-foot guardian of the village, also ‘live’ at the Halcyon Fairy Village. O’Hara said that he has heard kids talk of princesses Jasmine, Elsa and Anna visiting as well.
O’Hara said he sees people from all walks of life visiting the village, not just families with young children.
“I’ve seen many couples with a cup of coffee walking through here,” O’Hara said. “Just wanting to check it out and see what’s going on. I’ve also seen some elderly couples come through, and it’s always nice to see their smiles.”
Because of Georgia’s unpredictable weather, some of the Halcyon Village has flooded, the worst being during the hurricanes in October 2020. So, when O’Hara finds a new tree stump, he will place it upside down so that the houses have a tall platform to stand on, above the danger from flooding. O’Hara said that he mirrored this from what he learned working previously with a charity called All Hands and Hearts that help communities after natural disasters.
One of the largest stumps that O’Hara flipped upside down was “probably about 400 to 500 pounds – just enormous.”
O’Hara said that it was a joint effort between him and some of the men from a Halcyon running group. It took seven men to move the stump to where he wanted it and flip upside down.
He said that while he started the fairy village himself, Halcyon has since become involved and helped advertise the location so local families can it enjoy it.
Each Wednesday, Halcyon holds Discovery Day Kids Club events. Some of the events have featured fairies and the Halcyon Fairy Village. O’Hara said that kids have decorated birdhouses and have gone with Tinkerbell to the village to place them and play.
Halcyon will be hosting a Fairy Village Day on April 17. The event will be from 11am to 2pm and families and children will be able to make fairy boxes and houses to place in the fairy village. Tinkerbell will also be in attendance for photo opportunities. More information can be found at www.visithalcyon.com.
O’Hara said he is excited about the growth of the Halcyon Fairy Village and hopes to put in some new trails and clearings for future families and children to use. He said he is looking forward to seeing people and kids’ creativity bloom throughout the area and is always on the lookout to see new creations.
“Touch it, move it, add to it, rearrange it, bring in your own sticks and stones and just be creative with it,” O’Hara said. “It’s meant to be a playground that you touch and see things, it’s not meant to be a museum or exhibit. It’s supposed to be alive. And whether you move it, the fairies move it or the gnomes move it, I don’t know.”