Robert Held

‘Float fairies’ will place glass treasures near Parksville beaches

The Tidal Treasures project will initially start out in Parksville this October

  • Sep. 20, 2016 12:00 p.m.

Keep an eye out for glass-blown floats hidden along the beaches from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay.

From October to March, locals and tourists alike will get a chance to find these “Tidal Treasures” along the beaches.

Over the eight-month period, “float fairies” will be hiding these glass floats along the coast for people to find and keep. Some of the floats will be starred and can be taken to the Parksville Visitor’s Centre to win prizes donated by local merchants. Those without a star can still take their floats to the centre to enter a prize draw.

Parksville glass-blowing artist Robert Held said he first found out about this idea while driving through Lincoln City, Oregon.

“What they do is they put out floats — like we’re going to do — in their stretch of beach,” said Held, adding that its program started in 2000.

Held said he ended up doing a little bit of research on Lincoln City’s project, which is called Finders Keepers, and he said the city did it in the off-season “to try to bring back more tourists during wintertime.”

Held said Lincoln City is now putting out more than 2,000 glass floats in the off-season.

“The idea is we’re going to start slow. We’re only going to do about 300-350 this season and then hopefully build up,” Held said. He added that it won’t be just glass balls, but a seashore collection as well, including starfish, shells, sand dollars and scallops.

Glass floats used to be used by fishermen in many parts of the world to keep their fishing lines afloat, Held said.

The Tidal Treasures will initially start out in Parksville, Held said, but as time goes on will it will reach as far as Nanoose Bay and Deep Bay. All of the floats will be hidden above high tide.

“It will be placed by volunteer “float fairies.” They’ll go out early in the morning — stealthily — and place them above the high tide, so the water won’t wash them out,” Held said. “We don’t want them right out there. We have to do a little bit of searching.”

Held said they use the term “hide” loosely, since they want the floats to be found.

“They won’t all be out there or they’ll be all gone. So every morning they might take four or five or the next day they may not put any or the next day they may put out three,” he said.

For people who are concerned about the floats breaking, Held said they do have an insurance policy just in case someone cuts their finger. He added that the floats were made extra thick.

“Our float fairies are going to be out there every day, and if they see a broken one, they’ll pick it up,” he said.

The launch for Tidal Treasures is The Big Beach Ball on Oct. 15 at the Quality Bayside Inn. Tickets are $25 each. It will feature an exhibition of glass works by the artists involved.

Former-Oceanside Community Arts Council president Joe Straka presented the idea for Tidal Treasures to Parksville city council in April.

He said Tidal Treasures would be a “high-profile adventure tourism activity.”

“Our hope is to overwhelm everyone with glass art and become the glass art capital of Canada,” Straka said.

For more information, visit www.tidaltreasures.info.

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