Grandma of 6 Spreads Much-Needed Joy With Colorful ‘TUTU Happiness Project’

People pose in tutus
Becky Gacono

The idea behind the TUTU Happiness Project came to Becky Gacono a few months ago, when she pulled out a colorful tutu that had been hidden in the back of her closet. Four of her grandchildren were staying for a sleepover, so without giving it much thought, Gacono slipped on the fluffy tutu and pranced downstairs in it. Once there, the Annville, Pennsylvania, grandmother began to dance and twirl through the living room, sending her granddaughters into fits of laughter. The moment was heartwarming and carefree. And now, amid the dark cloud that hangs over the world, it's bringing light and laughter to millions of others across the globe as well.

  • Gacono says that at first, the tutu was just for her granddaughters' amusement. Each time they came over, they'd say, "MiMi, put on your tutu again!" 

    But recently, the joy the tutu brings began to take on a whole new meaning.

    "As the world started changing and stress was filling the days for everyone, I dug out the tutu and started carrying it with me and taking photos," Gacono tells CafeMom. 

    Soon, she ordered a few more, and wherever she went, the grandmother says she scoped out unsuspecting "victims" (aka volunteers) before asking them to put one on and pose for a photo.

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  • Her random request may have raised a few eyebrows, but to her surprise, 99% of the people she asked were more than happy to oblige.

    And the photos that she's taken along the way are nothing short of heartwarming.

    "It was amazing," she tells CafeMom. "Happiness, laughter, smiles -- and all from a little round colorful tutu."

  • Each time, there seems to be something magical that happens when a person puts one on. 

    "​It has been so much fun to watch the reactions of those wearing the tutu and those around the ones wearing the tutu," she says. "It brings pure joy to the space, and what a wonderful power that is in the world right now."

  • Before travel restrictions were put in place, Gacono even took the tutus with her on a trip to Florida, where she asked beachgoers to put them on.

    "Every time I take a photo it seems I love it as much as the one I took prior," she tells CafeMom. "The faces of the people wearing the tutus and what they do when they slip it on is priceless."

  • Gacono also loves that the "magic" of the tutu knows no age or gender.

    "As you can see on my Facebook page, there are all ages wearing them, and no matter the age they are happy," she shares.

    That Facebook page she speaks of is the TUTU Happiness Project, which has been racking up followers in the last few weeks as her images begin to go viral.

  • "We believe the world should be filled with more laughter," the mission statement reads. "What better way to make that happen than by wearing a tutu?"

    "If you have never taken a moment to slip one on -- you should," the page continued. "They have the power to bring a smile to your face and everyone’s around you. Give one to a child and they immediately start spinning and dancing around the room. Put one on an adult and let the laughter begin. Who knew a bunch of tulle layered in circles could create such happiness."

  • The message, says Gacono, is simple: "It takes so little to bring happiness into the world, even if it's only for a moment."

    To some, her project may just be a bunch of silly photos of people in tutus. But for the grandma of six, it's a bright spot in a very dark world.

    "What I do believe is when we exude happiness, it is something we remember, and not only do we remember, but those around us remember," she says. "Just like my granddaughters who saw me months ago and continue to ask me to 'put on your tutu' every time I see them. They know it will bring immediate happiness and joy the moment I slip it on."

    The project has been keeping Gacono pretty busy for the last month, in addition to the real estate business she runs with her sister and the grab-and-go bakery/coffee shop she opened called Whirling Dervish Bakery. (In case it wasn't obvious, it's safe to say this grandma doesn't sit still!)

  • With much of the US on a virtual lockdown, Gacono has had to get a little creative.

    She recently made a "tutu flag" for her car by fastening one to her antenna, and she drove around town snapping photos of her friend's kids in their own colorful tutus. (All while abiding by social distancing rules, of course.)

    "We had so much fun and we laughed harder than I think we have ever laughed before," she tells CafeMom, adding that she hopes to continue taking photos of friends and family during the quarantine, however she can.

  • She also used the opportunity to give others some ideas for what to do while self-isolating.

    Things like visiting the grave of someone you love and miss, and appreciating the simple things we all took for granted just a few weeks ago (like toilet paper).

  • Above all, Gacono just wants to make people feel good -- especially now, when the world feels so heavy.

    After all, searching for silver linings (even when there seem to be none) has always been her thing.

    "​I try to look at the bright side of life. My mother had dementia for nine years, and I made a decision to take one day at a time with her and try to find the joy, love, and even laughter in the moments we were given," she shares.

    "Life is too short to not find the joy and happiness around us all, even though at times it can be hard to find."