Eleven-some years ago, Jenny Gyapay (pronounced like Jedi) and her husband Paul were living in an enormous Craftsman-style home in wide-open Montana. Like many others, they fell in love with the quaint, small-town feel of Coronado while vacationing, and made the leap to becoming residents, sacrificing thousands of square feet of home and land in order to make Coronado their permanent home.
Gyapay, who works as a Behavioral Specialist and consultant for the Escondido Union School District, was feeling the effects of the isolation and division during 2020, and on a local walk with Paul, discovered another small fairy village locally, and thought doing something similar on a larger scale might be just what she and other locals needed to bring a bit of brightness and positivity to the community.
Using materials she had on hand, she up-cycled and recycled countless small items to create the first “settings,” as she calls them, in Tiny Town, with the first ones installed at the base of their pepper tree just prior to Christmas. Jenny Gyapay, aka The Mayor of Tiny Town, and Paul Gyapay, who serves as head of Public Relations as well Fencing and Lighting Manager, have been thrilled with the local response.
“I needed something to do, and it became something I love. I love seeing the surprised looks on the faces of those who discover it while walking down the street,” Jenny Gyapay notes. “All ages come- young and old, and we enjoy that people are happy. And right now, we need people to be happy”.
Jenny Gyapay creates the settings with found items, and common items that would otherwise find their way to the trash or recycling bins. A discarded Starbucks cup, covered with pebbles and glue, cup became the base for a gnome home with tiny shells used for the roof. Windows are created with the clear plastic containers that are used for blueberries and raspberries, and pebbles and tiny shells are used to cover buildings and roofs to create stone structures, such as the local church, which has its own stain glass window, made from the remnants of junk mail.
The level of detail is truly impressive. In the window of the local pizzeria, visitors will find pizza. Little’s Wine Lounge has a setting complete with wine moms around a table, a bottle of champagne, and the tiniest of wine glasses. The interior of Bitsy’s Bakery has a small menu, with miniscule donuts and pastries in the window. Most of the settings are connected by sets of ladders, completing the quaint village feel.
Mayor Jenny, who also enjoys tending to her roses and looking after their little hacienda, explains that she envisions what each setting will look like, and bases them on her imagination and the materials she has on hand. The local tiny cheese shop has a small wood table set with bowls of fruit, which were created with the beads of a re-purposed colorful necklace.
When she adds a new setting, she typically does it in the evening, after foot traffic has subsided, with PR Director Paul Gyapay assisting by holding his cell phone for lighting purposes. The evening set up helps perpetuate the wonder of the entire creation, since few people have actually observed her during the painstaking installation process. Paul has also installed solar-operated fairy lights around the tree, so people who do chance to pass by in the evenings can enjoy the magic.
Jenny Gyapay, who also enjoys reading and tending to her roses, admits that Tiny Town is a bit of an escape to another world, and is in the process of writing a series on the “locals” of the miniature village. She is also grateful to the friends and neighbors who have gifted her tiny objects, which she incorporates into each of her settings.
Tiny Town is on C Avenue, though, because parking and traffic can be tight in the area, the exact location is undisclosed, as it is best experienced as a bit of an accidental “discovery.”