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The Villages
Monday, June 5, 2023

Evening Rotary’s labyrinth event in Wildwood raises $12,000

Nearly 1,000 people attended the Labyrinth Spring Festival in Wildwood earlier this month.

The event was hosted by the Rotary Club of The Villages and the City of Wildwood Parks and Recreation Department and featured dozens of vendors and food trucks, as well as a display of 24 vehicles by The Villages Classic Automobile Club. The festival also included a Kids Corner, where children received free books and school supplies.

Ribbon cutting
Frank Fraine, center Mayor Ed Wolf and Sue Bodenner, Evening Rotary President and Julie Shupe, event chair with first walkers of the Labyrinth.

But the centerpiece of the event was a 45-foot walkable labyrinth that The Villages High School Interact Club helped design along with the Rotarians. It’s the largest labyrinths in Florida.

Wildwood Mayor Ed Wolf and Evening Rotary president Sue Bodenner cut the ribbon to open the labyrinth to walkers and the festival.

kids craft
Kids Corner

“Our goal was to partner with Wildwood Parks and Recreation to provide an event that everyone could enjoy and also raise funds for the work our Evening Rotarians do in the tri-county area,” said Bodenner. “Thanks to our sponsors, vendors, advertisers, and those who bought raffle tickets for the beautiful labyrinth quilt created by Sew Together and walked the labyrinth, we raised just over $12,000.”

Wolf spent well over an hour walking the labyrinth and then through the vendor area, having his photo taken at many booths and responding to questions from attendees about Wildwood.

“I really enjoyed the labyrinth walk and was impressed with how the Evening Rotary Club organized everything for this first-time event,” Wolf said.

Mayor Ed Wolf walking the Labyrinth with club president, Sue Bodenner
Mayor Ed Wolf walking the Labyrinth with club president, Sue Bodenner.

Rotarians Rich and Kate Tapia walked the small maze and had fun with the crafts, but they especially enjoyed the performances of trained dogs and the puppet show.  Roni Wood of the Wildwood Police Department fit children and adults for the correct size bicycle helmet that was provided free. Children enjoyed the Touch a Truck area where they could sit in a Sumter County Fire Truck or SWAT Vehicle or go inside the Marion County portable jail.

swat 2
: Touch a Truck Exhibit SWAT Vehicle.

The International Labyrinth Society endorsed the event as a “special project” and representative Frank Faine was impressed by the turnout. “I’m pleased with the community response to something that had never been done before with a labyrinth,” said Faine, who answered visitors’ questions and gave historical perspective regarding the use of labyrinths to build community.

For more information about the Rotary Club of The Villages Evening and to see more photos of the event, visit www.rotaryvillagesevening.com.

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