By Jillian Amodio
Magic is alive and well, especially in the tight-knit waterfront community of Cape St. Claire. For several months, tiny 3D printed toys in a variety of colors and themes have been appearing throughout the neighborhood. Children and adults alike have been delighted to find these treasures at various places in the neighborhood including the beaches, parks, the shopping center, the library, and even on doorsteps or in mailboxes.
The anonymous creator of these delightful designs has become a community treasure themselves. Cape residents have bestowed several monikers upon the secret gifter, including Summer Santa, Printer Claus, and the 3D Fairy.
In an anonymous interview, the creator behind the merrymaking said out of all the names being tossed around, they are quite fond of being known as Summer Santa. They said that the idea came when searching for a new hobby.
“I wanted to learn something new and I really enjoy being a maker,” said Summer Santa.
Right around Easter, Summer Santa came across a set of egg-shaped cats with various expressions while browsing online. Summer Santa decided to print 55 Easter cats to hide around the neighborhood for kids to find.
The joyous response to the little gifts was immediate. The neighborhood Facebook page was soon full of photos of smiling faces and endless gratitude for this random act of kindness.
“It was very easy to see that they really connected with the love that I was trying to express and share, so I decided that it might be kind of cool to continue hiding some toys and trinkets around the neighborhood from time to time, just as a way to spread some love and joy around,” says the anonymous creator.
For Summer Santa, the drive to continue hiding toys and treasures is more than just an outlet for creative expression, it is about connecting with their community in a deep and meaningful way.
“I do read the comments on Facebook and there have been a few personal notes shared with me. What I’ve read tells me that it’s been a challenging couple of years for many people, especially families with small children,” they said. “It’s very clear to me that people are connecting with this on a very deep level…people seem to be receiving and feeling the love and blessings that are infused in every piece I make.”
Resident Bridget Marie Dent says, “The day my girls (Kyla, age 6, and Lainey, age 4) found the items from the printer fairy had been horrible leading up to that point. My daughter was so upset and crying when she got off the bus, she was just having a horrible day. We sat at the bus stop until everyone else had left and all of a sudden noticed a Ditto (Pokemon character) sitting on a log, right at the bus stop. Kyla’s tears immediately stopped and a little smile crept across her face. Then, when we were almost back to our house, we found a lobster. At that point, Kyla’s day was completely turned around.”
Debra M., also a Cape St. Claire resident, says that her children’s spirits were rather low as the school year dragged on. Madison, 11, and Hayden, 8, set out to find the hidden treasures in their neighborhood after being alerted to their presence by their father. “They have proceeded to build cardboard box homes for their creatures, complete with wallpaper, beds, etc., and it has brought so much joy to my house,” says Debra.
“My kids—Grayson, age 6, and Elliana, age 3—were over the moon thrilled when they got their starfish. It made me tear up. I was so overwhelmed with joy and kindness,” said Amber O’Baker. “My kids have taken their starfish EVERYWHERE! Even in the bath tub and pool.”
Jennifer Martin and her daughter Ariana found an intricately detailed octopus. “I was just as excited as my daughter to find the printer fairy had left a gift on our mailbox… I don’t know who you are, but you hit it out of the park.”
Morgan Bracken Van Arsdall says what she loves most about all of this is that the creator behind the creatures is inspiring a love of STEM in little girls like hers. “They are showing them that 3D printing isn’t just boring orange widgets, but fun, colorful animals! My 10-year-old girl decided she wanted to try to make her own 3D crab after finding one near the beach. That kind of genuine inspiration is so rare!”
The Broadneck Community Library is home to a starfish that was left at their book drop. It now sits at the information desk. When curious library-goers ask about its origin, staff tell the delightful tale of the anonymous gifter in Cape St. Claire who leaves these little surprises.
“It’s easy to forget just how connected we all are. Our community of Cape St. Claire is quite family oriented, and to me, living here feels like being a part of a big family,” says Summer Santa. “Each piece is infused with love and blessings for whoever finds it. I really hope that’s the main takeaway. You are loved, you are blessed, you have worth and you are enough. Let that love ripple through you and out from you into the world and it will just keep going and flowing on forever. Pay it forward. Make a difference in someone’s life. That’s what this is about.”