Myra Merkal had two goals in mind when she started the White Rock Princess Party: to help young girls feel better about themselves while raising money to benefit the community.
For the third year now, the event is instilling confidence and virtues in girls ages two to 10 while gathering funding for a good cause. The proceeds from this year's event will go to the White Rock Fire Fighters Charity Association to build a park that will be entirely handicap accessible, elder friendly and suitable for children of all ages.
"This is what our dream is," said Merkal. "We want to create an all-abilities park on the beach in White Rock."
Her ambitiousness stems back to the planning stages of the first Princess Party, when she first met Alyssa Nielsen, founder of As You Wish Princess Impersonations and a spot-on Sleeping Beauty or Little Mermaid.
"We just had a very strong connection and a really like-minded goal," said Nielsen. "She loved my desire to teach children these values and I loved her heart."
Merkal considers her partnership with Nielsen to be one of many little miracles that made the event run so smoothly. By chance, the event's photographer knew Nielsen and introduced them. The two teamed up and made the first Princess Party a sold-out success, with 100 princesses in attendance and $3,500 raised.
"She was absolutely the star," said Merkal of Nielsen, who dressed up as Cinderella that year. "I had no idea what I'd gotten until she walked in. The doors opened up and she waved her arms - I thought, 'Oh my god, this is Disneyland.'"
Nielsen returned the second year and the event nearly doubled its attendance, with 190 princesses, and raised more than $10,000.
"When I saw what they were doing and what they were attempting to accomplish for these little girls, I was really inspired to be just involved in whatever way I was needed," said Nielsen.
This year, Merkal wants to outdo last year's total, setting a lofty goal of $15,000. In addition to money from the Princess Party, she's seeking funding from sponsors and is also raising money herself through garage sales and dinner parties.
"I have to definitely expand more to get the $15,000," she said. "I'm hoping that we will get one or two more people that are willing to sponsor."
The party will have raffles for prizes that have been donated by local businesses. But more importantly than the money, Merkal hopes the girls will gain virtues, security and self esteem.
"I want every little girl that walks in there to feel that this is an event that's created just for her," she said.
The Princess Party takes place Saturday, Aug. 25, from 12: 30 to 3 p.m. at the Star of the Sea, 15262 Pacific Ave., White Rock.
Parents can buy tickets for $25 online at wrprincessparty.com or in-person at RE/MAX Colonial Pacific Realty, 15414 24th Ave., South Surrey. Due to space limitations, there is a limit of one chaperone per ticket.
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