Downtown Phoenix hosts Time Travel Appreciation Day for 'Doctor Who' anniversary

Annika Van Neck and parents Serge and Sharla Van Neck, dress up in Doctor Who costumes, for the doctor who convention at the Squash Blossom in Phoenix. Many turned out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who on Saturday November 23, 2013.  (Photo by Murphy Bannerman) Annika Van Neck and parents Serge and Sharla Van Neck dress up in Doctor Who costumes, for the doctor who convention at the Squash Blossom in Phoenix. Many turned out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who on Saturday Nov. 23. (Photo by Murphy Bannerman)

Despite the cold, rainy afternoon, “Whovians” from all over the Valley flocked to downtown Phoenix’s Squash Blossom restaurant Saturday for Time Travel Appreciation Day on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the popular TV series, Doctor Who.

Entire families wore Doctor Who garb. One teen wore a button that read, “I love time lords” on her show-inspired trench coat, while her father went as the Doctor himself, sporting a colorful scarf, curly wig, trench coat and a British accent.

While a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “22” played with a chorus of “watching Doctor Who,” two Doctors came together and shook hands, congratulating each other on their costumes and eating authentic British candy.

Patti Hultstrand, the event coordinator, said Doctor Who brings people together through their common curiosities about human history and prospects for the future.

“With time travel especially, it's the ‘what if’ situation,” she said. “'What if we could go back in time in our life and change something?' So it’s the ‘what if’ that entrances us all. There’s a whole lot more time travel-oriented shows and movies now, and I think this represents a growing interest in our future as a society.”

Hulstrand said one of the most positive aspects of the show is its emphasis on the goodness of mankind, through the Doctor’s appreciation of humans.

“So here (the Doctor) is, he’s an alien, but he’s truly fascinated with humankind,” she explained. “And I think that’s why it catches on, because ... the Doctor just finds all the good things and makes us realize how wonderful people are overall.”

The event was also a food drive and each participant was asked to bring one non-perishable food item to donate to the United Food Bank. Hulstrand said she hopes to host more events such as this in the future.

Diana Givon trekked from Goodyear to attend the event, and was sporting a royal blue dress modeled after the T.A.R.D.I.S. in the show, complete with a light-up top hat and Doctor Who accessories.

Givon said these sort of events that can appeal to different demographics are very beneficial for the downtown Phoenix community.

“Any time you have an event that can appeal to a large portion of the population as far as age and interests, you will bring more people downtown,” she said. “I hadn’t heard of Squash Blossom until this event, and now I’m here!”

Soon a Doctor Who trivia contest began, and a costume contest soon followed.

Throughout the afternoon, more time-travel enthusiasts kept arriving and the spacious restaurant was full of Doctors, male and female.

Annicka van Neck, 15, attended the event with her parents, though they said she was the truest “Whovian” of them all.

She said the show is so important to her, because it promotes positive morals through a fascinating, time-travel-oriented storyline.

“I just think that the morals of the whole show are so inspiring (and) there are a lot of life lessons that can be applied,” she said. “The Doctor has so many attributes that you can really look up to. ... He looks at an alien with blue skin or something, and he doesn't judge it. He gets to know it before judging, and I think that’s a really good lesson.”

Annicka said events such as these showcase the area and make her consider applying to the Downtown campus for college.

“If there're other events going on, there are lots of places to do things, there are restaurants, museums, and I think it’s great way to advertise the surrounding area (to ASU campus) and to benefit the local businesses,” she said.

She then joined the other fans gathered in Squash Blossom’s main dining room, its windows now darkened with makeshift curtains, to watch the first-ever Doctor Who episode being projected on the wall. Many smiled as they watched the fuzzy black-and-white program.

Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @mahoneysthename

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