SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Walking through the Festival of Trees, one might see a tree adorned with Harry Potter decorations, showing key moments and symbols from the popular book-to-movie franchise. The fantasy series was one of 13-year-old Eli Mitchell’s favorite things.
“I love Eli so much, and it just reminds me of Eli when I see it, every little bit,” said Lisa Mitchell, his mom.
In late April this year, Eli was riding his bike back from the grocery store in West Jordan when he was killed in a hit-and-run near 1510 W. and 9000 S.
“It’s the first time that he’s not here with us on the holidays, so it’s cool to see people are making an effort to help,” said Emma Mitchell, his sister.
The tree, created by friends and family, features signs that read 9 ¾, Harry’s beloved Owl Hedwig and other memorable symbols from the series. Eli’s family shared that his favorite book was the fourth installation, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and if he saw this tree, he would absolutely love it.
Lisa’s favorite thing about the tree was a sign with a quote from the series standing next to the tree.
“’The ones that love us never really leave us.’ I love it,” Lisa said. “When I saw the tree, that’s the first thing I was drawn to, and I feel that so strongly.”
She shared that these last few months have been difficult, but she tries to follow Eli’s example.
“I can’t explain how it feels to lose a child,” she said. “People will say you know, you’ll get through it. We’ll never get through it. We’ll just keep living for Eli, like him,” she said.
Friends and family remembered Eli for being so friendly and kind to others
“He’s really a good kid. He didn’t really care about what other people thought. He was so kind to everyone and reached out to everyone,” Emma said.
They said that he was close with the family and was known for being funny, smart, and loving.
“He just was who he was with no apologies and just went about his life in an amazing way,” Lisa said.
Looking at the tree that reminds them so much of their Eli, his family shared that they are grateful for those who came together to share his memory.
“You can feel really lonely when something like this happens and when people come together to help you, it means so much,” Emma said.
His family said they will live big like Eli did, and hope he will continue to inspire others as he had inspired them.
The Festival of Trees will go on until Dec. 3. Doors will open at 10 a.m. every day of the festival. The event ends at 9 p.m. from Wednesday through Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday. Ticketing information can be found on the Festival of Trees’ website.