CNCounty News

County library rolls out red carpet for youngest residents with tea parties

tea party

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Charlotte County, Fla. Libraries’ annual Princess Tea Party gives children in low-income and foster care households the royal treatment. 

Children, ages 2-10, create their own princess scepter or magic wizard wand, decorate a crown and get to dance and read with their favorite Disney princesses, according to Ashley Guerzo, youth librarian at Charlotte County Libraries & History division.

“We wanted to create the Disney World experience as much as we could for kids who were in need and couldn’t ever really get that experience, or maybe get that special birthday party that they’ve always wanted,” Guerzo said. “So, we wanted to give it to them to create that magic and let everyone know the library is more than just books.”

The event was originally created with girls in mind, but the library encourages boys to come as well, dressed as pirates or princes, and children have the option to sign a princess, prince or pirate ‘code of honor’ that says, ‘We work with kindness and fairness.’ 

The library works with local restaurants and bakeries as well as national chains, like Dairy Queen, to create a buffet for the kids. Volunteers through Friends of the Library and Port Charlotte Women’s Club also bring food, as well as decorate the space, and a local party planning business, Wish Upon A Star Princess Parties, brings in actors dressed up as Disney characters. 

“We invite children to dress their best to come and dine with the princesses, get waited on hand and foot and just feel beautiful, feel good about themselves,” Guerzo said. “… The princess party, to me, it’s all about the community. And that’s one of the first ways that we connected with the community, and I love that we have kept that tradition going and it gets bigger every year.”

Community members donated dresses for the library’s first Princess Tea Party in 2019, which daycares and churches helped make possible. 

“We had over 400 little girls show up in princess dresses and they like spilled out into the library with their glitter and their princess dresses,” Guerzo said. “Everywhere you looked, you saw them just bouncing around and it was the cutest thing, so we knew that this was something that was big.”

The Princess Tea Party has become so popular that it has outgrown the library space. This year, the event was held Feb. 17 at the Charlotte County Family Services Center. Another great result of the event is how it makes attendees aware of all of the other resources the library offers, including its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics), early learning and art programming, Guerzo said. 

“These are the kids that I feel that need the library the most,” Guerzo said. “Whatever they can get at school, they can get, but then afterwards, their parents are out working, a lot of them are latchkey children, and they walk to the library and we want to give them more than just a place to read or some video games, so we really open it up to them … It’s just lots of good, wholesome fun.”

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