PERRY HALL, Md. — Two things are guaranteed to happen when a Disney princess comes to a busy playground. A large crowd of young fans eager to say hello will form and there will be hugs.
“Oh my goodness, these are the best hugs ever!” exclaimed Sarah Smoot, who arrived at Angel Park in Perry Hall dressed as Rapunzel.
One by one, girls came up to Smoot for a hug. Some are excited to meet a princess and run right up to her, while others are a little shy and need some nudging from their parent to embrace her.
It doesn’t matter how outgoing or shy a child is, Smoot loves them all.
“I love seeing them smile and getting the biggest hugs from them."
Smoot, 21, has been dressing as princesses like Rapunzel for several years, working for the company Princess Palace Parties in Bel Air.
She attends many children’s birthday parties but also does a lot of volunteer work with local non-profits, such as fundraisers for Casey Cares and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She also goes to hospitals to visit children.
One of her favorite places to go dressed as a princess is Angel Park, which is an all-inclusive playground designed for children of all ability levels.
“Every kid I meet here is wonderful, all the people who work here are amazing. Everything that the playground stands for is great, I love it,” she said.
Smoot is a senior at York College majoring in psychology with a 4.0 GPA, and she is involved in many extracurricular activities. Even with a full plate of school and activities, she always looks forward to putting on a princess gown and visiting kids.
“When I have to come home from college and work a princess event, whether its volunteer or a paid birthday party, it’s nice to take my mind off of everything else that’s going on and make other people happy.
Her family and friends have seen the magical moments between Smoot and the kids and recognize the difference she’s making in their young lives.
“Seeing the kids’ faces, whether it’s a healthy kid or a sick child, it’s so inspirational seeing those kids’ faces light up,” said Zach Billings, who nominated Smoot for the award.
“They’re three, four, five years old but you know it’s a memory they’ll have forever.”
Eventually Smoot will transform from a princess to a child psychologist but she’ll never give up the magic of bringing smiles to children’s faces.
“I just love helping the community in any way possible, whether it’s as a princess right now or a job I get in psychology, I would love to make a difference in other people’s lives in some way."