Dayton Harwood is one of the newest members of the Creative Crew at Arizona Mills’ Legoland Discovery Center in Tempe. And he has one goal in mind.
“I really hope to learn how to make a Pikachu out of regular Lego because I had this one a while ago that didn’t have all the pieces, so I didn’t get to finish it,” said Dayton, who will attend Self-Development Academy in the fall.
Dayton is one of 12 kids in the Creative Crew, a group of children chosen annually through a building competition at the Arizona Mills Legoland Discovery Center.
This year, the day-long event was Saturday, June 15. Kids between the ages of 6 and 10 created one-of-a-kind models in front of a live audience. Judges included Master Model Builder Alec Posta, General Manager Claudio Di Capua and Operations Director Cassie Fairclough. Legoland Discovery Center mascot Bertie offered encouragement and entertainment as the 85 kids competed in two rounds. They were asked to build a Lego animal and something that represented a part of themselves.
Dayton built a basketball court, as he’s a big fan of the sport.
“They’re the top brass of the kid Master Builders,” said Posta, of Ahwatukee. “They meet with me once a month and have lessons. We do some fun builds. I try and hit the seasons. Like in October, we’ll build pumpkins — I’ll teach them how to make spheres — to grow their creativity, their building ability and their love of Lego.”
The winners get an inside look at the inner-workings of the 60,000-square-foot interactive attraction, and they’ll also assist Posta with everything from testing new Lego models for special events to serving as ambassadors for visitors and dishing out advice.
The Creative Crew scores two free annual passes to Legoland Discovery Center Arizona, invitations to exclusive events and a Creative Crew T-shirt to wear to monthly meetings and activities.
The other members are Kaden Benninghoff of Buckeye; Darlah Rosales and Finn Collins of Mesa; Jackson Blackmer and Levi Ramirez of Phoenix; Adelyn Suddock of Peoria; Abigail White of Casa Grande; Layla Kretchmer of Queen Creek; and Abigail Angeles, Micah Grayer and Brendan Aylesworth of Chandler.
“We obviously look for talented builders, but that’s not all it takes to be in the Creative Crew,” Posta said. “We’re looking for kids who think outside of the box. For example, we had them build an animal for the first round of the competition. We had one child build a whole family of turtles and it had a backstory. We chose them for the Creative Crew. It’s that extra level of creativity that brings your models to life. I think adults could learn from this, too.”
Dayton is definitely inspired by Lego. It’s one of his many creative outlets, which include Phoenix Children’s Choir and sports. He even has an invention book, in which he jots down his ideas before he forgets them.
“Lego really inspires me,” he said. “They inspire me to do stuff during the day and not sit down and watch TV all day. They’re saying to me, ‘Do stuff. Don’t lay down. Don’t watch TV. Build something.’”
His favorite set is an unfinished Ninjago project. His parents, Dylan and Macy Harwood, hope he perfects his Lego skills as a member of the Creative Crew.
“He loves to build and he’s super creative,” Macy said. “I want him to learn different techniques so he can reach his goals of building whatever he wants.”