“Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories," said the genie in the second Aladdin movie. Have you ever dreamed of being a princess and having your pretty tiara sparkle as you dance with a handsome prince? Have you ever thought of yourself as a brave hero fighting a fearsome dragon and saving the kingdom from a fiery end? Perhaps you imagined being the beautiful queen that everyone in the land loves, but only because you have them all under a spell with an evil curse. Well, put that iPad down! Turn off that video game! Grab your camera, suit of armor, or pretty dress and get over to the Urbana Free Library on Friday, March 9th for the 11th Annual Fairy Tale Ball. The Urbana Free Library staff and librarians have convinced Tinker Bell to lend them some pixie dust to transform the library into a magic castle, where everyone in the land — C-U and surrounding — can attend. Join kings and queens, fairies, princes, and princesses for a magical night of fantasy.

Rachel Fuller, Adult and Youth Service Director, and Lauren Chambers, Adult and Youth Service Librarian, are both very excited about the event. Fuller said, “Every year we have a theme; last year was the dragon’s first year. This year will be castles — it’ll be like dancing in a big castle.” The dragon she’s referring to would be the large paper dragon that protects the library when you enter on the Race Street side.

This event will have everything from jugglers and storytellers to puppets and a fortune teller. If you wish, there’s even a royal herald that will announce you when you enter the ball.

It seems to be a popular opinion that kids are so into electronics now, they don’t even read or visit the library. But that’s so far from the truth; the Urbana Free library has a teen lab, baby lap time, and promotes reading by offering reading programs for babies to adults. Programs such as 1000 books B4K (Before Kindergarten), which is for children up to 5 years of age, helps parents get their child ready for reading. For every 100 books the child reads, he or she receives a sticker and their photo goes on the online photo gallery. For every 500 to 1,000 book the child reads, they receive a free book. (Click here for more information on reading programs and events at the library.)

You might think why fairy tales? But wouldn’t you want to live out a dream of being a knight or a king? Kids and adults get to dress as their favorite characters from great childhood stories. Because of a grant funded by Fred Schipf and Diane Hillard, the community gets to enjoy a fun family night for free, with lots of games and activities for everyone. There will be English country dancers, a magician, crafts, and photos with your favorite characters from tales as old as time, stories we grew up reading over and over again. Lauren Chambers reflects on a childhood memory: “When I was a small child, I had a picture book. The illustration in it was beauty, it was Beauty and the Beast. This is my favorite fairy tale to date.”

I believe in the power and magic of imagination, and this is a great opportunity to better connect with your children. Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we can’t wish upon a star, and have our hearts filled with wonder. So knock the dust off your imagination, and flex that muscle this Friday night.

Everyone across the land is invited to the Fairy Tale Ball, so you don’t have to wear a costume if you don’t want to. You can come as you are, but honestly, how often does one receive an invitation to ball in a magic castle? Your carriage awaits, but unlike Cinderella you don’t have until midnight — your carriage turns back into a pumpkin at 9 p.m. 

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The Eleventh Annual Fairy Tale Ball will take place on Friday, March 9th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Urbana Free Library.