Pinwheels springing up in Swanton

Event part of effort to enhance park, community

By Tom Benton

Staff Writer

The Facts

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SWANTON — Like a front yard overtaken by dandelions, Anita Michele Parah’s basement studio is overrun with pinwheels.

“The pinwheels are growing,” Parah said. “We want this to grow every year.”

Pinwheels covered the bandstand on Swanton’s village green during last year’s pinwheel art display. During this year’s Pinwheels in the Park installation, Saturday, May 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the pinwheels’ reach will stretch as far as the park’s “swan cages.”

There will be more traditional pinwheels, made with paper or plastic sheets, but there will also be pinwheels made from big tin cans, pinwheels made from large plastic bottles and even two giant pinwheels the size of small children.

These pinwheels are among the evidence of Swanton’s community revival on display in the park. Residents planted flowers in the park on Saturday, while the newly formed kids gardening club focused on pollinator-friendly plants. Discussions continue about an LED announcement sign, which will likely wind up in the park.

Furthermore, this year’s pinwheel installation — like last year, a collaborative effort by the Swanton Arts Council, spearheaded by Parah — is timed with the opening of the Swanton Farmers Market, also in the park.

Parah proposed the initial pinwheel event after a sub-zero February night spent placing ice marbles in the park. When it came time to discuss the Swanton Arts Council’s next project, Parah said, “Why not pinwheels? It’s spring-like. It’s ushering in springtime and color.”

Volunteers, mostly from the Arts Council, assembled this year’s pinwheels during multiple sessions beginning at the end of March.

First they measured around their material of choice to mark even intervals. Then they severed the base of the material and made vertical cuts along the interval markers. Peeling back those cuts gives the impression of flower petals blooming — and gives the wind something of which to grab hold.

The pinwheel-makers then decorated their creations, adding additional color and diversity beyond the materials. The final tally of this year’s pinwheels reaches close to 100.

“As a child, I used to love pinwheels,” Parah recalled. “I remember running around and letting the wind just soar, taking those pinwheels for a ride.”

The inaugural pinwheel installation, she says, was a major success.

“It was gorgeous,” she said. “You couldn’t ask for a better day. People came out to see the color. People came up to us during the display and were asking, ‘Can we buy any? Are these for sale?’”

The answer was no, last year. This year, however, pinwheels are for sale, and are available for sponsorship, as well, starting at $5. All proceeds will go to the Swanton Arts Council.

Parah runs Kevin’s Taxidermy with her husband. She plans to return to her mixed media art after the plethora of pinwheels are exorcised from her studio.

The question now is how the pinwheel installation will grow in years to come.

“My ambition is to have a permanent sculpture of a pinwheel in the park,” Parah laughs.

Those interested in sponsoring a pinwheel should contact the arts council via their Facebook page or website,, by Friday, May 27.