BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Struggling merchants in one Long Island village came up with a unique plan to attract shoppers and fund charities with butterflies.
They installed a pop-up butterfly greenhouse, and the community is standing in line to get inside.READ MORE: CDC Announces New Mask Guidance For People Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Adjacent to the historic First Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Babylon Village, three shopowners opened their interior walls. Customers are invited to walk through one door to another and into the rear courtyard they share.
Three-year-old Vahn Gaglio was dragging his parents, again, to the butterfly exhibit there Friday.
A sponge paintbrush is soaked in banana, coconut and fruit punch to attract the Painted Ladies, relatives of the Monarch. There are 125 such butterflies living in the greenhouse. They’re dormant until temperatures reach 75 degrees, then they show off.
“Learning the lifecycle of the butterflies and it’s an environment that you wouldn’t have naturally on Long Island,” Babylon resident Jen Itzkin said.
The attraction costs $5 a person, but the fees aren’t for the sponsoring stores, says Joseph Debello, owner of Hitch.READ MORE: Israel Attacks Gaza Strip As Violence Intensifies
“Raising money for charity. We’re not really making money off the greenhouse. Hopefully, when they come here, they shop our stores,” he told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
The exhibit also has larvae and caterpillars, says Babylon Mercantile’s Melissa Michael.
“It’s about education, it’s about fun,” she said.
“The giving back, the warm and fuzzy feelings that everybody’s experiencing,” said Theresa Ribarich, of Babylon Boutique.
The Painted Ladies live just weeks to months, so the greenhouse may have to be restocked with butterflies for the duration of the pop-up.MORE NEWS: Bronx Man Takes It Upon Himself To Clean Up NYC Park, But City Says Not So Fast
Butterfly proceeds go to local food pantries, animal shelters and childhood mental health.