Bagpipes fill the Egyptian Theatre as kilt-clad men proceed down the aisles. They carry a crate with them toward the front of the theater where Brody, wearing fur and a horned Viking helmet of his own, is standing. As the lid is lifted, the auditorium hushes. Inside waits a dragon.
“What child asks for a dragon?” said Brody’s mom, Kim. “I'm like ‘don’t you want to go to Disney?’ But no, ‘I want a dragon.’”
Volunteers at the Idaho chapter faced the daunting task of creating a dragon. They turned to a team of toy makers that included Caleb Chung, co-creator of the Furby, and master puppeteer Len Levitt. Toothless began as Pleo, an animatronic dinosaur that has spent years in research and development.
The team worked for months to adapt Pleo to look and behave like Toothless, during which time Brody visited Chung’s shop to check on the progress of his dragon. The imaginative duo connected instantly, and their vision came together in the form of a little robotic dragon.
“I have the same wish Brody does. I think everyone does,” Chung said. “We want a magical companion. We want that thing from our childhood to come to life. I’ve had that dream my whole life. So I think Brody’s getting this wonderful gift, but I am, too.”
A Special Showing
On June 7, a crowd of family, friends and community members – many of them dressed in Viking gear – gathered at the historic Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho, for the big unveiling. The Idaho chapter’s development director, Meghan Levi, crafted a script for the evening with parts played by Idaho Shakespeare Company actor Tom Ford, Chung as “Angus” from the Isle of Berk and Levitt as Angus’s 4-year-old son Haggis. After a little Viking humor, it was time to lift the crate and reveal the sleeping Toothless inside.
Brody took a moment to hold and play with his new dragon, which can move on its own, blow blue smoke and even react to being rubbed under its chin. Brody’s response: “he’s cute.”
His parents were amazed that the Make-A-Wish team pulled off their son’s unusual wish. “Apparently you guys make miracles, because he’s getting a dragon,” Kim said.
With his new pet dragon in his arms, Brody and several hundred guests received a special viewing of How to Train Your Dragon 2. Brody is currently in remission and plans to spend a lot of time escaping into fantasy with his new toothless friend.