Wings of the West: West Volusia invites visitors to get their wings at these art installations

For a brief moment I was a plane. Not one of the hulking behemoths that fly across oceans with hundreds of people inside. No, I was a scrappy historic single engine biplane -- two sets of wings, one over the other. In front of the tiny engine I became the plane careening through the air. My friend snapped a photo and suddenly I was brought back to earth.

It was part of a treasure hunt seeking out places where the wings soar, beckoning people to explore new areas in West Volusia and pose in front of the huge artful wings. And, just for a moment, maybe consider flying in all its many forms.

These wings invite us to pretend we're everything from a bird to a biplane. Each of these locations offers a unique interpretation of the concept of wings and each is hidden just a bit, turning visitors into sleuths and the experience into a treasure hunt.

Angel Wings of Deland

The phenomenon started in Deland when artist Erica Group needed to take photographs of dresses for a local boutique and found that the place with the most perfect light was a spot in the nearby alley. The backdrop was not very attractive so Ms. Group decided to draw something inspiring that would add an extra dimension to the photographs. She decided to create a set of wings. Visitors soon discovered the wings on Persimmon Lane, decided they were really angel wings, loved the selfie opportunity it presented and made it a small but growing attraction.

Originally drawn in chalk, the rain kept washing the wings away. Eventually, Ms. Group painted them, and they have been there ever since. Soon, other towns and attractions wanted their wings, too. West Volusia Tourism asked her to paint a series of them around the area. Ms. Group was happy to oblige and now there's a Wings of the West trail.

Pioneer Settlement Struts its Wings

The peacock wings of this historic attraction were the second set Ms. Group created. They are painted on the side of an old barn and are as colorful as the bird that inspired them. Ms. Group noted on her blog that she was excited to work with the metallic paint she choose for the mural. "The gold made all the difference in the world in making the details pop" she noted. Although there is
a charge to visit, the Pioneer Settlement welcomes Wings visitors for a free visit if they just want to see and selfie with the wings. Ask for a pass, perhaps making a small donation, and snap your photo. Hours are seasonal. Check the website for hours before you visit. Wings are located near the Wood Shop.

Fairy Wings of Cassadaga

The third set of wings is set on the Fairy Trail near Stevens Street in the spiritualist camp town of Cassadaga. To reach the wings, take the fairy trail into the woods past the whimsical assemblages incorporating everything from tea sets to mardi gras beads. Glittery things hang from branches and fanciful creations adorn trees, bushes, and hollows. Follow the path to find mounted fairy wings and snap your next selfie. Sprinkled with fine glitter dust, Ms. Good has made them truly ethereal.

Lyonia Welcomes Scrub Jay Wings

At the Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona find your scrub jay wings by the pollinator garden welcoming butterflies. There's also hiking and wildlife viewing in the preserve, and education exhibits inside the Nature center. Admission is free.

Bi-Plane Wings for a Sky-Diving Airport

The only mechanical set of wings in the series, these bi-plane wings were inspired by the sky-diving airport that would host them at Skydive Deland. Considered to be one of the busiest drop zones in the country, enthusiasts can experience tandem (beginner) jumps up to advanced jumps. After you're taking your selfie in front of the historic plane painted on the wall, wander into the office and find out when the next group of jumpers will be leaping out of planes. Grab your camera and snap photos of people flying without an aircraft.

Fly the Kite Wings in Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

The sixth and final set of wings resides at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLeon Springs. Two giant oak trees make it easy to spot the bird wings modeled after those of a swallow-tailed kite. The preserve is a serene place to enjoy some of Florida's natural beauty.

Created with the hope that people will tour, collect photos, and learn what West Volusia has to offer visitors, this imaginative and entrancing project was supported and encouraged by Georgia Turner of West Volusia Tourism and Michael Benedict of Benedict Advertising

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Neala McCarten

September 23, 2019

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