The first season of Tidal Treasures received generally positive feedback. However for the second season, organizers will be scaling back the time period because of an overwhelming response. — NEWS file photo

Tidal Treasures in Parksville Qualicum Beach receives a big following

Organizers hoping to add more beaches for second year

Despite it being the first season of Tidal Treasures, Wendy Sears said the response was overwhelming.

Sears, who does social media and communications for Tidal Treasures, said the initiative really took off. Over an eight-month period, “float fairies” hid glass floats, which were created by local artists, along the coast for people to find and keep.

The goals of Tidal Treasures included attracting tourists and locals to the area during the off-season, raising the profile of the glass artisans, exposing the public to the beach environment and getting people outdoors in the winter months.

“I think we were a bit overwhelmed at the response. I don’t think that there was any indication — we didn’t have any indication — that it would take off the way it did,” said Sears, adding that the volunteers learned a lot in the process.

Back in April during the Easter long weekend, leading up to the final month of Tidal Treausres, a few “bad apples” disregarded the rules and disrespected the environment and residents at Columbia Beach.

Afterward, the Tidal Treasures group decided to discontinue hiding the glass floats at Columbia Beach.

“There was just a smattering of negative (feedback), and you’re always going to get that. But for the most part, people really, really embraced it,” she said.

Because of the response, Sears said, they will be scaling back the second season from Nov. 1 to the end of April.

“Whether we go back to Columbia (Beach) is kind of up in the air at the moment,” Sears said.

“The more beaches we can get on, the less impact it’ll be on certain beaches; it’ll dilute the amount of people. You probably wouldn’t get as many people from the north coming down this way. They might go to beaches in Bowser.”

The unfortunate part, Sears said, is not all the beaches in the region from Nanoose Bay to Deep Bay are suitable for hiding glass floats. She said some of the beaches are too rocky or the tide comes up too high.

“Although we have all these beaches, some of them just aren’t suitable at all,” she said.

With most of the glass floats being hid on Parksville’s Community Park beachfront and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, the float fairies managed to hide more than 700 glass treasures between October 2016 and May 2017.

Sears said she believes most of those floats were found, but she added there may be a handful left that remain carefully hidden. She also said the float fairies had to wake up earlier and earlier to hide the floats before people went hunting for the day.

She said the beachcombing also became a family outing for many people over the winter months.

“Normally, in the winter, people probably wouldn’t even go outside,” she said. “Kids would be watching videos or playing video games, but they were actually participating with their families and getting out there and searching.”

And without being asked, she said, people started posting and sharing their finds on social media, tagging Tidal Treasures in their posts.

The website, www.tidaltreasures.org, received more than 25,000 hits and their Facebook page — the group’s main way of communicating, said Sears — received more than 11,000 followers. Sears said from some data collected, 83 per cent of visitors were from outside the Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

For the next season of Tidal Treasures, Sears said, the float fairies will be looking at doing some fundraising to help with costs, since it’s a volunteer-run initiative.

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