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Papillion 150 dedicates Butterfly Garden

Papillion 150 dedicates Butterfly Garden

A little rain only seemed to make the flowers glow brighter when the Papillion 150 Butterfly & Pollinator Garden in Veterans Park was formally dedicated on Friday, including the unveiling of a new sculpture, “Tranquility.”

More than 100 Papillionites gathered with umbrellas for the event, to see what organizers are hoping will become a gathering place for the city.

“This has been the most enjoyable project that I have ever done,” Papillion City Councilman Steve Engberg told the audience. “It exists because of the community. It was made by the community’s hands, and it be continued by the community.

“If we grow it right, we can preserve a sense of our small town values.”

Located on the north side of the park, the 50 by 60 foot butterfly-shaped garden is filled with nearly 70 types of annual and perennial plants to attract threatened and endangered insect species. Construction of the garden began in the fall of 2020.

Karla Rupiper, chair of the Papillion 150 Butterfly Committee, said it was a civic effort to get the garden up and going in spite of the pandemic. Most of the plants and materials were donated, as well as a flow of contributions that continue to fund a trust for the garden.

“This will continue to change over time,” Rupiper said. “It is a legacy project.”

In commemorating Papillion’s 150th anniversary, the Butterfly & Pollinator Garden celebrates and protects the city’s namesake — the butterfly. This garden is not only a habitat with 2,000 plants, but serves as a living classroom where the community can learn.

“This has become a hot spot for gardeners,” Rupiper said.

ViREO, the same landscape architects who designed Veterans Park, returned for this project. They continued the curved walking paths from the park to the garden.

The newly installed “Tranquility” is a 16-foot tall Monarch butterfly sculpture, created by renowned Omaha artist Matthew Placzek. The acrylic panels of the sculpture will reflect sunlight in remarkable ways. The Linda and Rudy Chloupek family and the Deb and Gary Shives family are primary funders for the sculpture, Rupiper said.

Placzek’s work is on display around the metro area, including at Children’s Hospital and Nebraska Medical. He wrote about the project: “For over 150 years, the City of Papillion has stood as an urban sanctuary for local businesses, quiet suburban neighborhoods, and an outstanding academic system. Papillion has always been a community that cultivates kindness, hard work, and celebrates diversity. The butterfly, which has been a long-time symbol for the city, is a perfect representation of what it means to be a part of Papillion life.

“Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. Many cultures associate the butterfly with our souls, and interpret the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. Around the world, people view the butterfly as representing endurance, change, hope, and life.

“My hope for this sculpture is to become a long standing landmark for Papillion, and to inspire and evoke emotions of peace and tranquility.”

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