Wizarding Dayz places spell on Sandy families
The volunteers from Raising Educations Through the Arts, Cosplay and Heroes (REACH) are all dressed up and ready to join in the fun. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
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On Feb. 23 and 24, the South Towne Expo Center was overrun by witches and wizards and Muggles alike as the first Wizarding Dayz descended. All manner of fantastical creatures came together to celebrate their love of Harry Potter and fantasy while showing support for several charities.
“The butterbeer was pretty close to the one in Orlando. I thought it was really good. And these balloon artists were amazing,” said Elizabeth Douglas, who brought her children to the event to enjoy the face painting, creature encounter and snacks that were an homage to the various fantastical realms represented. “We love Harry Potter,” she said.
Thanks to UtahPirate.com, visitors were also treated to the presence of a large black pirate ship where children were free to climb and prepare to take over the high seas as well as a chance to meet colorful mermaids from Utah Mermaids, a company that uses dressing up as fantastical creatures to help educate about marine biology, mythology and healthy body image.
“It’s amazing how impacting the characters are to the kids,” said Mandy Brown, director of Raising Education through Arts, Characters and Heroes (REACH), a nonprofit educational support that uses volunteers in costume to teach anti-bullying, STEM, literacy, history and arts using characters like King Arthur, Jack Sparrow and Leonardo DaVinci. They travel to schools and events for free.
A fully-stocked kids craft area was set up for children to create their own interactive magic wands, potions and potion bottles and Howler notes before having mythical creatures painted on their faces or built from balloons.
“It’s just fun to be with people that like things that you like,” said Kirsten Wright, one of the attendees. “We’ve all got a common interest and it’s fun to share that.”
The Wizarding Dayz event also raised money for three nominated local charities and community organizations: Canines with a Cause, a nonprofit organization that helps U.S. military veterans by turning shelter dogs into service dogs; the Human Rights Education Center of Utah, a nonprofit that provides education in anti-bullying, cultural awareness, equity and compassion education to schools and youth programs; and the Utah Parent Center, an organization designed to help parents and families of children with disabilities ranging from ADHD to hearing loss live a happy, productive, inclusive life, by partnering with other parents and medical, educational and community professionals.
“We were ecstatic to be nominated,” said Jennie Dopp, the development coordinator for the Utah Parent Center, which has served the community for over 34 years. “The clientele at Wizarding Dayz was a great fit for our organization. A lot of children with disabilities enjoy wizarding activities or the Harry Potter genre or sci-fi. It was a great event and we were happy to be participating and we hope we can do it again.”
With classes and presentations ranging in subject from the study of ancient runes to alchemy to fantasy creative writing classes, people of all ages participated in every event, including a cosplay and beard competition, which drew a large crowd.
“I think anytime you have a chance to connect with a population that you can serve is always a great thing,” said Dopp.
For more information about Wizarding Dayz and future events, go to wizardingdayz.com/. For information about getting involved with the charities involved at Wizarding Dayz, go to canineswithacause.org/, utahparentcenter.org/, and hrecutah.org/.