The Valley of the Moon Fantasy Tour isn't new to anyone who's lived in Tucson for any amount of time. After all, the tour has been going on since the park was built by George Phar Legler in the 1920s—and the fact that the tour can capture the imaginations of children and adults time after time is nothing short of astounding.
As part of Tucson's Birthday, the all-volunteer-run Valley of the Moon will be offering the Fantasy Tour on Saturday, Aug. 7—and as always, the party will be free, but donations are accepted (and needed). From 6 to 9 p.m., there will be live music, food, a do-it-yourself costume contest (no store-bought entries, please) and, as always, the magic and mythos that's always a part of the Valley of the Moon experience.
Valley of the Moon/George Phar Legler Society president Randy Van Nostrand explained the origins of the Valley of the Moon while speaking as his tour-guide character, Angus McDoogal, a Scottsman—and not an Irishman, as people lacking an ear for accents may assume.
"Valley of the Moon is dedicated to the memory of its founder, George Legler," Angus said. "George was dedicated to the premise that kindness to all is the golden key to happiness." Angus added that if people teach kindness to children, they will be happier adults.
Valley of the Moon has remained a nonprofit organization in honor of George, who felt that true happiness was given and not sold; Valley of the Moon runs entirely on donations.
The Valley of the Moon is still an eye-catching landmark. It remains secluded, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and surrounded by mountains and vegetation. At night, it can be truly breathtaking. Even if one finds the notion of magical creatures to be ridiculous, it's hard not to note of some of the mystic qualities of the Valley of the Moon's location—like the brightness of the stars there.
The centerpiece of the park—and certainly the most eye-catching of the park's landmarks—is the Enchanted Garden's Gnome's City: It consists of a stone wall surrounding a garden with a small stream flowing through.
The Valley of the Moon has survived on the kindness of people since its inception. As the legend goes, in the 1970s, when George was becoming too ill to care for the park, some teenagers hopped the fence to see what the place was all about. They were enthralled, and ended up bonding with George, who eventually left the property to the group of students and their parents; the students helped maintain the park after George's death.
Unfortunately, running a nonprofit can be difficult, and the Valley of the Moon's caretakers are trying to restore the park to its former glory—as a major tourist attraction. The park has been renovated with new structures and magical creatures, and couples can now hold weddings there. And of course, there are the tours and celebrations, such as the event taking place on Aug. 7.
Von Nostrand became quite emotional as he returned to his Angus character.
"When you have a land of magic, it survives on kindness and the creativity of others," said Angus. "The magical creatures are small and defenseless. They cannot protect themselves from the bulldozers, and they need defending from the humans. This park is the anti-CNN: On CNN, something bad is always happening, while this park is all about happiness and kindness. This park can be used to teach children kindness, and I really wish people would start recognizing this in our park."