Princess Holly hadn’t heard this question from a youngster before: “Do you fly?”
But without flinching, she had an answer: “No, I walk around. But I have friends who fly, like Tinker Bell.”
Sometimes the Fairy Princess has to be quick on her feet, or rather, on her rose-and-gold throne. Youngsters lined up Sunday at the Kansas City Museum’s Corinthian Hall for the final Fairy Princess visits of the 2014 holiday season.
When the Fairy Princess returns in 2015, she will mark 80 years since the tradition began in 1935, although there was a pause of several years in the 1970s and ’80s.
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The reign of Princess Holly, however, ended Sunday. She’s 22, a recent college graduate who will hand over her wand to others.
“It’s bittersweet,” said the princess. She is often questioned about whether she has a horse and carriage and, of course, a prince.
“Sometimes you get some tough questions, but for the most part they’re just really excited to see you,” she said. “When they walk in, they just light up.”
The Fairy Princess saw visitors at the Northland’s Zona Rosa earlier in the season and at Corinthian Hall, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., for the first three weekends in December.
This year the Fairy Princess’ throne at the museum was moved from the carriage house to the mansion’s grand hall, an even more regal setting, said Andrew Mouzin, museum community relations manager. The mansion has been undergoing extensive renovations.
In her white gown, seated in front of the staircase, the princess was surrounded by flocked and decorated trees, garland and icicles. On one side was a trunk of gifts for girls and on the other side, one for boys.
After talking to the youngsters and asking whether they have a “holiday wish,” the princess had the children help her wave her wand, which magically lifted the lid of the appropriate trunk.
Eight-year-old Payton Daniels of Leawood visited the Fairy Princess for the first time Sunday and was impressed. She mentioned Minecraft books for her holiday wish.
“I like her because she’s so sparkly and she’s so nice,” Payton said. “I helped her hold the wand, and the magic chest opened.”
The visit also was a treat for Payton’s grandparents, Jan and Bill Daniels.
“We both grew up in Kansas City with all the holiday traditions,” Jan Daniels said. “This is our first granddaughter. She was so excited, and we love the mansion.”
Suz Owens of Buckner was in the crafts room with her nieces, 6-year-old Ella Burns and 4-year-old Anna Burns of Shawnee and 4-year-old Olivia Todd of Prairie Village. With help from volunteers, the children were making ornaments after they visited the princess.
“We’ve heard about this for years, and we thought the kids were old enough now to appreciate it,” Owens said. “They’re girls, so fairy and princess, that’s all good.”
The visit was a hit.
“I loved her so much,” Anna said. “I can’t believe we had magic.”
The Fairy Princess tradition began at Kline’s department store downtown. Over the years the gifts from the princess have arrived magically in various ways, including down a chute.
The tradition continued through the late 1960s. Kline’s closed in 1970. In 1987, the Kansas City Museum revived the Fairy Princess appearances, and since 2006 she also has appeared at Zona Rosa. The $10 price included a picture with the princess, the gift, storytelling and crafts.
The Kansas City Council recently approved a resolution recognizing the museum and honoring the Fairy Princess for her decades of “dedication and inspiration” to Kansas City children during the holidays.