AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Central Texas family is turning to the world of Harry Potter to bring out smiles amid the pandemic.
Joel Pace initially started building his Harry Potter-themed display when his wife Amanda was diagnosed with cancer.
“She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2017,” Pace said.
It started with him building a flying car from the movie, and quickly turned into much more.
“The summer of 2017 I just started building stuff because it made her happy to see me build things and see what it was going to be like,” Pace said.
Diagon Alley was his first major project, allowing visitors to walk through the display he set up in his front yard, but this year with COVID-19, he had to make some changes.
“With the pandemic we had to change the display from the immersive walk through display that we have done the last few years to something that is much more pandemic socially distant,” Pace said.
This year they won’t allow people to walk through, but they will allow people to drive by and take pictures. The Diagon Alley setup will also be gone, replaced with a new theme.
“This year we are building the Hogwarts Castle and some other stuff,” Pace said. “It is the gift that keeps on giving, and we generally get back more than we put into it.”
Donations are welcome, and they raised more than $10,000 last year. This year money raised will be donated equally to Zachary Scott Theatre, Foster Angels and Variety of Texas.
“Diagon Alley Austin Halloween House” has a Facebook page with more information.
The family issued this message for folks who could be in the neighborhood on Halloween:
Because there will be very young children possibly trying to enjoy Halloween in our neighborhood, we ask that folks avoid driving through the neighborhood the evening of Halloween. Out of respect for our neighbors trying to navigate an already uncertain Halloween, we’d prefer not to add excessive traffic to the mix that one night. Plenty of time to enjoy the display through the month of November. The display has no set hours as it is just yard decorations, but lights will go out around 10 p.m.The Pace Family
The display will be finished by Halloween, but it will remain open through November.