Sept. 2, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Magical fairies are the newest residents of Sunnyside, with more than a dozen fairy doors popping up throughout the neighborhood.
The fairies are moving into trees, gardens and walls outside businesses and along the sidewalks of Sunnyside, with the support of a human resident, who has helped 13 fairies find homes since July.
Samantha Hamilton, a Sunnyside resident and Irish native, has been placing fairy doors by trees and on grassy areas throughout the community.
Fairy doors and homes — which consist of miniature doors, houses and woodland settings placed on or near trees — have become popular along walking trails in Ireland over the last decade or so.
Hamilton and her family usually visit her home country each summer and search for fairy doors while there. This year she decided to invite some fairies into Sunnyside — where she has lived for the past 20 years — since the pandemic squashed her family’s travel plans.
She began building homes for the magical creatures in her own backyard to entertain her six- and three-year-old daughters while they were stuck indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
The girls created little fairy houses out of milk cartons, which they placed outside in their garden. Hamilton told her daughters that if they left their creations outside overnight, a fairy might move in.
The next morning, the girls awoke to the sight of a new fairy door next to the carton-houses and were ecstatic to learn a fairy had made a home in their garden.
Hamilton saw how excited her own children were at the sight of the door and decided to build more fairy homes throughout Sunnyside for neighborhood children and children-at-heart to find and enjoy.
“I thought my own kids enjoyed it so much, and I was like maybe I’ll order more doors and install them around the neighborhood, so other people who go on walks can enjoy them and it might be like one of those fairy trails in Ireland,” Hamilton said.
She imported the miniature doors from Ireland and began scoping out the real estate along Sunnyside Gardens for her winged pals. She has helped 13 fairies move to the neighborhood and hopes to find homes for at least seven more so that Sunnyside has 20 fairy residents in all.
Children and adults alike, have since been on the hunt for the fairy doors. People began posting photos of the doors on Facebook and families have been stopping to admire them.
Hamilton has seen children pointing at the doors and shouting with excitement at the site of the miniature homes on her own walks, she said.
“It is very heartwarming, so I continued [adding more],” she said.
She soon started getting interest from adults as well who applauded the whimsical homes on social media.
“I think people have a new found sense of whimsy from just these crazy times that we’re living in,” she said. “They have had more time to themselves, so they’re embracing the little things that are fun.”
Creating the fairy homes has also been therapeutic, Hamilton said, adding that she discovered her artistic side during the COVID shut down.
“It brought out the artistic side of me that I think was buried because of work and the pace of life,” she said. “For me it’s been one of the positive sides of this lock-down…having the time to indulge in the artistic side that I didn’t even know was there.”
Hamilton has created a map of the general area where the fairy homes are located. The map doubles as a coloring page for children and print-outs will soon be available for families to pick up at The Skillman, located at 45-20 Skillman Ave.
She also launched a Facebook page, A Fairy Trail of New York, where she will announce when new fairies that move into town–without disclosing the address–and other details about the fairy doors. Hamilton only asks that users don’t reveal the exact locations of the fairy doors, so that residents can enjoy searching for them.
However, she is planning to launch a map in the future with the exact locations of each fairy door for parents who may have trouble finding them and need the instant gratification to appease their young children. The map will be available for an optional donation, which will fund supplies for future fairy doors in other neighborhoods.
Hamilton also hopes to involve children in adjacent Queens neighborhoods and build fairy doors in those areas.
“My intention was just to entertain my children,” Hamilton said. “[But] it’s brought fun to many adults and children and that’s been really wonderful.”