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After 19 years, Fairytale Town will get a new leader. What changes are in store?

Land Park’s Fairytale Town has earned a spot as one of Sacramento’s top family attractions. After 19 years of leadership, the woman who helped make that possible said she’s ready to let somebody else take charge. Executive Director Kathy Fleming, announced Tuesday she will step down by the end of 2019.

Fleming is transitioning to the position of director emeritus, and Fairytale Town’s board of directors is looking for someone who can fill her shoes. It’s no small job. Now a top-five regional attraction, Fairtytale Town all started with a single line printed on a brochure in 1956. “A magic wand is waving over a small section of our beautiful William Land Park, changing children’s dreams to reality.” The park now hosts a quarter million people annually and generates millions of dollars in revenue.

Since the opening on August 29, 1959, Fairytale Town has raised its operating budget to $2 million, and expanded and refurbished every corner of the park with capital projects. It has started programs like the annual Children’s Book Festival and the Sacramento Adventure Playground youth program. To this day, Fairytale town remains the only literacy-based park for children in the region.

Fleming, who drove many of the park’s initiatives, will be missed.

“The park’s success is Kathy’s success, and her support during this critical phase of our growth exemplifies her dedication to Fairytale Town and it’s expansion. It is the Board’s intention to honor her legacy during this transition period,” Linda Alger, president of the board of directors, said in a statement.

The board of directors said in the position profile they want a strategic and dynamic leader that can take charge of the park’s long-term expansion plan, which was announced earlier this year. But, most important, they are looking for a candidate with “an engaging sense of fun and play to fulfill the park’s mission of promoting the imagination, creativity, and education of children.”

Fleming hopes her legacy will not be a made out of bricks or written on paper, she told the Sacramento Business Journal. The millions of smiling children that over the years have raced through Humpty Dumpty’s Bridge is what she wants to be remembered for.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.
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