The delicate black and orange wings of butterflies caught the wind along with the imagination of the young girls who set them free.
The third-grade girls of Berlin Heights Girl Scout Troop 885 gathered outside the Berlin Public Library on Thursday afternoon to release the butterflies they cared for together.
"We're kind of sad because we don't want to let them go," said Brittany Taylor, 9.
Lindsi VanMeter, 8, and Melanie Sayler, 8, read poems about butterflies before the 10 troop members released the nine butterflies one-by-one into the air.
Reaching gently into the aquarium, the girls cupped the butterflies in their hands and then released them into the afternoon sun. They waved good-bye to the butterflies who immediately took the air, and gently coaxed the ones intimidated by the brisk wind until they gathered the courage to fly off.
Troop leader Jean Nealey said she got the idea for a butterfly project from a butterfly garden at a camp the troop went to last summer.
"We raised them for three weeks," Paige Nealey, 9, explained.
The girls said they learned many things while they cared for the painted lady butterflies, including some things they didn't expect.
"I didn't know they drank Gatorade," Brittany Taylor said with a smile. The butterflies drank "fierce grape" flavored Gatorade from a sponge while living in a glass aquarium at the library on Main Street.
"It just gave me a lot of joy to see how many people got to enjoy our butterfly project," Nealey said.
Nealey said when they went to the library to visit and care for the butterflies, the librarians always had stories about the other children who came to see the butterflies.
The girls agreed it was something they would like to do again.
"I wish right now we could start all over," Nealey said.
The troop hopes their butterfly project will earn them a blue ribbon when they enter it in the upcoming Erie County Fair.