AUSTIN (KXAN) — It takes a lot of work, and of course some magic, to build your very own Hogwarts Castle, but one Texan is doing just that.
“There are lights and stuff in everything,” said Joel Pace, who has been sticking to the Harry Potter-themed decorations at his home in Austin since 2017. “We get comments on our Instagram and Facebook page from all over the world.”
It takes weeks to set up, but Joel says it’s all worth it. “Back in 2017, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and on a whim, just to cheer her up, I did some Harry Potter decorations.”
From then on, the display has gotten bigger and better, but COVID-19 caused him to shift gears. In 2020 and 2021, Joel started building the Hogwarts Castle as a way to be more COVID-19 friendly. The castle display allows people to drive by or walk for a quick stop. Before the pandemic, he would build Diagon Alley with many interactive displays.
“I’ve gotten questions about if it is inflatable. It is not inflatable,” Joel said. Far from it; every piece is hand-painted or custom-made by Joel and volunteers. “I started building the new bell tower in June and it took me through late August to finish it,” he said.
Masks are required, and while it’s free to visit, Joel is also raising money for multiple local charities. Joel and his family are even making Harry Potter-themed gifts for some of the kids. The family says the best time to see it completely finished will be Thursday, and that it will be up until Christmas.