On Wednesday, October 26, Karin’s Florist turned 60—a milestone birthday that more than 20,000 people in Vienna, Virginia cheered.
“When we started planning about a year ago, we realized the anniversary coincided with the city’s Halloween parade and knew we had to capitalize on it,” said President Maris Angolia, AAF. The staff immediately began brainstorming a party that concluded with a show-stopping float that would mesmerize the crowd.
They landed on the idea of a Cinderella-themed celebration, complete with a prince and princess riding in a carriage (adorned with flowers and greenery—of course).
“It was our diamond anniversary and we planned to give away a pair of diamond earrings from Princess Jewelers, which got us thinking about princesses. Plus, it’s Disneyland’s 60th anniversary as well,” Angolia said. “We recently began offering Disney-themed containers and accessories. So it just seemed like a perfect fit.”
Next, she located a local company, Shenandoah Carriage Company, that provides horse-drawn carriage rides and asked the owner if he’d be interested in partnering with the shop for the parade, which draws tens of thousands of spectators each year. (He offered a resounding “yes!”)
Then it was time to cast Cinderella and Prince Charming—roles played by Angolia’s goddaughter and a Karin’s employee.
To engage the community, the shop hosted a social media contest. Parents posted a photograph of their daughter dressed as a princess and asked friends to vote by liking or sharing the image. For each “like” on Facebook (“heart” on Instagram or “favorite” on Twitter), the child got one entry in a raffle to pick an honorary princess to accompany Cinderella and Prince Charming in the carriage. Each “share” (“repost” and “retweet”) earned three entries.
“I’m pretty sure our winner, Abigail, had something like 250 entries,” Angolia said with a laugh. “Her father had a hilarious post and was very gung-ho soliciting votes.” His entry alone gave the shop a ton of free publicity leading up to the event.
On the big day, the Karin’s Florist parking lot was filled with families enjoying a festival-like atmosphere complete with pumpkin carving, face painting, and a flower bracelet-making station. A professional photographer—a friend of Angolia’s—snapped images of children posing with Cinderella and Prince Charming. Employees handed guests a token rose and Disney pin.
Just before the parade started, Angolia’s husband, dressed as a knight, introduced “Princess Abigail,” who arrived dressed as Belle and crawled into the carriage.
The celebration generated a ton of media coverage. Two news stations featured the carriage in their parade highlights, and one of them shot four segments at the shop throughout the day. A photo of the carriage appeared on the front page of several newspapers.
“It sounds cliché when you’re talking about Disney, but the day was truly magical,” Angolia said. “Everything fell into place beautifully and exceeded our expectations.”
Interested in hosting a major party at your shop? Angolia has a few words of advice:
“Tie it into a community event so you have a built-in audience and don’t have to start from the ground up,” she said. “And start early! This gives you time to line up partnerships and get the word out before people have other plans.”