Some fathers build their kids tree houses, but this Seattle dad teamed up with his neighbors to give his daughters another world — part of the wizarding world of Harry Potter, that is.
It all started a few weeks ago when Seattle native Jon Chambers decided to take a break from his job in the tech industry to work on some personal creative projects. His first brainstorm session was with his two daughters, Avery, 7, and Haley, 11.
“I wanted to do something really cool for Halloween this year because I was tired of nobody coming down our street,” Chambers told ABC News. “My younger daughter said ‘Let’s do Diagon Alley!’ And I said, ‘That sounds great!’”
He immediately got to work on sketching designs for the fantasy shopping village featured in the Harry Potter series, which would be built on the driveway of his home. Aside from the initial few sketches and doodles, he said a lot of it was designed on the fly.
“I kind of wanted to keep it loose and organic,” Chambers said. “It felt more like doing an oil painting.”
The project was truly a community effort, according to Chambers. For two weeks, neighbors, friends and family pitched in by donating supplies and their time to construct and paint the various shops.
“On the first day, we had 30 people at the house,” he recalled. “The dads assembled panels and then [would] take them to the paint station and the kids would paint them.”
When the Seattle Diagon Alley officially opened to the public on Halloween, hundreds of children and adults entered through a magic brick wall and strolled past storefronts for Quidditch supplies and potions, just like in the book.
The spellbinding setup had more than 3,000 visitors in just two days.
Chambers said his family has met lots of new neighbors from the community and he’s planning to keep the display up through the beginning of January, with visitation hours all day.
“For a lot of Harry Potter fans, this is an amazing first [experience] for them,” he told ABC News. “They can’t necessarily afford to go to London or Universal studios.”
He’s also hoping J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, will stop by.
“Once I finish Gringott’s [bank], I’ll send an official invite,” he said.
Chambers is also inviting visitors to donate to pediatric cancer research.
“My girls chose [pancreatic cancer research]. They were really touched by the story my wife Jennifer told of someone she’d worked with that passed away this month,” he said. “They were upset there wasn’t a cure for [it].”
Chambers himself feels connected to the cause because one of his professional idols Steve Jobs also died of pancreatic cancer.
As for future projects, he’s already thinking about a Star Wars theme for next Halloween.
“The neighbors have been inspired,” he said. “A [few have said] ‘What are we going to do as a block next year?'”