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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Harry Potter’ characters cast spell at annual Haunted Ruins event

    Rebecca Noble

    Young witches and wizards practice casting spells during professor Minerva McGonagall’s transfiguration class at the Valley of the Moon’s Harry Potter and the Haunted Ruins on Sunday. This theatrical event brings Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry to life for children of all ages, giving them the opportunity to attend classes such as Care of Magical Creatures, taught by Rubeus Hagrid, and Defense Against the Dark Arts with professor Remus Lupin, along with a welcome greeting by Albus Dumbledore himself.

    Calling all “Harry Potter” fans: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry has opened a new campus, and it’s right here in Tucson.

    For the rest of the month, anyone who has dreamed of receiving their letter of acceptance to the school — delivered by owl, of course — can finally become first-year scholars of magic at the Valley of the Moon’s Harry Potter and the Haunted Ruins walking theater.

    Valley of the Moon, located 15 minutes away from campus on Allen Road, was opened in 1932 by George Phar Legler as a mental and spiritual refuge for himself and others.

    “Legler was a gentle, eccentric old man,” said Zack Jarrett, current Valley of the Moon president. Legler was a Spiritualist who believed in ghosts, fairies and magic and was a friend to children. Through Valley of the Moon, Legler wanted to teach children how to be kind, loving individuals in order to better their world.

    Following this central ideal, Legler created an enchanted garden park for local children and gave tours of this imaginative, fantasy land for over 30 years. The tours were free of charge back then, and Legler continued to lead them until his failing health and eyesight forced him to stop. 

    After almost 10 years without tours at Valley of the Moon, a group of teenagers rediscovered the place they used to visit as children and, with Legler’s guidance, recreated the magical playground of their youth.

    Since then, Valley of the Moon has been an all-volunteer organization that runs community events once a month and holds special fundraising events in April and October, always upholding the values and beliefs of Legler, who died in February 1982.

    One of the traditional events held at Valley of the Moon for decades is the Haunted Ruins tour show put on for several nights every October. This walking tour features a different theme each year reflected in the show, characters and the Valley itself.

    This year’s theme revolves around J.K. Rowling’s enchanting world of Harry Potter. Guests to the Valley of the Moon will be treated as first-year Hogwarts students beginning their first day of classes at the new Tucson campus. Visitors can look forward to receiving their own wand, being sorted by the Sorting Hat and visiting Diagon Alley before the tour begins. 

    The prefects will then gather up the first-year students and take them to their first day of classes where something strange and magical is bound to occur. 

    “It’s an imaginative adventure where the audience becomes part of the fun,” Zack Jarrett said. The production, like the Valley itself, is completely volunteer-run and has over 40 cast members ranging from 9-60 years old and an additional 40 helpers running the logistics of the walking theater.

    When asked why he joined the production, 9-year-old Noah Samson, who plays Harry Potter, said, “I like the Harry Potter movies and books … and acting with other people and having friends and family in the park as the audience.” 

    Many of the volunteers are recurring cast or crew members, including Julia Jarrett, the 13-year-old daughter of Zack Jarrett. She will be playing a prefect in this year’s Haunted Ruins and has been in four productions in the past. 

    Jessica Banks, a 26-year-old Pima Community College student studying to be a sign language interpreter, is also a prefect for the tours. Banks spent time volunteering at the Valley as a teenager and recently returned to continue her involvement.

    “If people believe in magic, they definitely should come because it’s a pretty magical show,” Banks said.


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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