A Backyard Diagon Alley

After reading some of the Harry Potter series and watching the movies, Vivienne Nevitt decided she wanted her 6th birthday party to be a Harry Potter theme. This is not uncommon, of course, but what her parents did next was anything but.

Her mom, Katherine Patsas Nevitt, who is used to planning and staging parties, thought “we’ll do a Diagon Alley!” And the rest is history. “It wasn’t originally planned to be this big,” says Katherine, “but I started thinking on it and I convinced my husband to get on board with it and we started to gather junk, basically.”

The Nevitts used their utility trailer and started searching for some pallets and plywood, and other free furnishings and things that quickly evolved into building Diagon Alley shops. Over the course of a month they built a small village, complete with Madame Malkin’s Robe shop, Flourish and Blotts Bookseller, Ollivander’s Wand Shop and Mr. Mulpepper’s Apothecary.

The floors and all the walls are made from free pallets and plywood, as well as china cabinets repurposed to look like windows. “And I hand-painted all the stone and details so it looked real,” says Katherine, who was an art major in college, though she decided to pursue a law degree.

“[My husband, Matthew] is super handy, so I dream up these crazy ideas and he helps put them together,” she says. “He’s overjoyed when it comes out,
and he’s definitely proud of the finished product.”

They pair sourced a lot of their materials from Second Chance Baltimore and through Craigslist. “It became an obsession almost,” says Katherine. “What can I use? What can I find in that junk pile? We were able to find bookcases, china cabinets, pieces that nobody wants anymore. The only thing we spent money on were a few trim pieces, nails and paint.”DSC 1003lr

Their kids, Vivienne 6, Victoria 5, and Thomas, 1, love to dress up in Harry Potter garb, make potions in old bottles in the apothecary, and hide in the magic cabinet in the robe shop. Vivienne’s birthday party was a raging success, and she was able to share her magical Diagon Alley with all of her Girl Scout troop, school friends
and neighbors.

The Nevitts hope they can share their creation by renting it out for small kids’ birthday parties or photo shoots, or charity events—though they’re still trying to iron out details. “We just want the community to enjoy it,” says Katherine.

Meanwhile, the family, along with Katherine’s friend, photographer Bridget Slack, hosted a photo shoot for local kids as a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Florence. According to Slack, “We raised over $1,350, and sent a trunkful of gift cards and donations to North Carolina.”

You can follow the family’s Diagon Alley adventures on Facebook @diagonalleygambrills or check out their website, nevittcreative.com.

—Ann Levelle

Intro photo courtesy of Bridget Slack

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