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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Candle Making Workshop Pays Tribute to Library Founder

Candle Making Workshop Pays Tribute to Library Founder:
Children mark Pequot Benefactress Virginia Monroe’s 174th Birthday
(Posted to 5/7)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – It was a workshop and a birthday party all rolled into one. Crafts and cake you might say, to honor one of Southport’s greatest contributors.

Late Friday afternoon, about two dozen children and a few parents gathered at Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Avenue, to participate in a candle making workshop in honor of Virginia Monroe Marquand’s 174th birthday. Marquand was the founder and benefactress of the Pequot Library.

Virginia was born on April 29, 1837 and adopted by Frederick Marquand. She grew up in a Greek Revival house on the current-day library property. When Frederick passed and left her the estate, Virginia began building the pink stone building behind the mansion, to honor him. She gifted the library to the village of Southport in 1892, razed the estate and moved with her husband Elbert to Tarrytown, NY. 

“We do something every year to celebrate her birthday and I tell the kids Virginia’s story,” said Susan Ei, Children’s Librarian and the lead on the workshop program. “In the past we’ve done soapmaking, fly fishing and paper flowers. We always have a birthday cake. It comes around the time of Mother’s Day, so this year the candles will make great gifts for mom.”

Ei explained the parameters of the candle making session. “Each child will make two candles – one in a fancy teacup, the other in a paper cup filled with seashells. The seashells will become embedded and we’ll peel away the paper to reveal the formed candles with the shells visible inside,” she said.

The process, which Ei learned on the fly, involves melting the wax, adding color and scent, preparing and inserting a wick and filling the containers. The session also involved the creation of gift bags in which to present the candles.

The children sat at workstations at several tables that had been set up and busily inserted wicks in their cups then filled the paper ones with shells. As Sydney Woo, 6, of Fairfield, filled hers, she held up a shell to her ear and said, “I can hear the ocean in this snail shell.” She added, “I like the shape of the shells. This will make a pretty candle for my mom.”

The children then switched gears to gather on a mat on the library floor on which a pile of stampers and buckets of crayons had been placed, with which to design the paper gift bags. As they worked, library helpers came around with pitchers of melted wax and filled the various cups.

Looking over the shoulders of her two boys at their completed gift bags and candles, parent Leslie Geary said, “Susan is one of the best librarians ever. Her programs are always original and unique. We knew it would be a treat to be here today. I have a feeling I might see these on Mother’s Day.”

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