Dork Den continues 10th anniversary celebration during Day of the Dead event

Oct. 29—The Dork Den continued its 10th anniversary celebration at the second large-scale Day of the Dead event in Old Town on Saturday.

According to event Chairperson Jennifer Ek and her Co-Chair Justin Ek, last year's celebration was a success, bringing in over 10,000 people. This year was anticipated to be even bigger and better.

The Dork Den participated last year and store owner Joe Huber said it was a blast. But he knew that if they were to participate again this year, they had to go bigger and better, too.

"With it also being our 10th anniversary, we really wanted to give back to our communities," he said. "One of our most vibrant communities is our Pokemon community."

Pokemon is celebrating its 25th year as a game so Huber has seen three generations of Pokemon fans come in and out of his store.

"We've got moms and dads that collected and played when they were kids and are now bringing their children in," he said. "We have one family where grandpa played, then the father played and now the son plays. It's really nice to be part of that and we wanted to share our love of Pokemon with them, so we're doing a Pokemon giveaway."

From one side of their tent at the event, The Dork Den handed out 1000 three-card packs of Pokemon cards, carefully selected from their in-store supply.

The packs were free of charge but only one pack was given per person.

"Just to put that sweetener in there, one of the packs will have a $100 Charizard special edition card," Huber said. "We wanted to do something big and cool and pretty much everyone that works here has opened a pack of cards and been excited with it. We wanted to share that joy with everyone."

Lorelai Davey of Mankato was with her parents Allegra and Chad, hoping to get the Charizard card.

"I'm really excited for it," she said.

She noted that she would also be happy to receive the Pokemon card she happened to be dressed as at the event: Eevee.

Lorelai's love for Pokemon began when her classmates at school introduced her to the game.

"I saw people playing Pokemon (at school) and they gave me a free card," she said. "My first card was Pikachu."

Her mom, dressed as Pikachu, smiled.

Her dad added that The Dork Den gives her free cards as well, helping her grow her collection. The Davey's have been Dork Den customers for five years now.

For those that aren't as crazy about Pokemon, they received stickers and candy instead.

On the other side of their tent sat Ben Gersh, a special effects artist, who was sponsored by The Dork Den to provide free face painting to event goers.

"It's just a great way to give back to the local community that has given so much to us," Huber said.

The rest of the event was a hit with those that were there.

With over 70 vendors, live music, family friendly activities and entertainment, and a handful of opportunities to learn about other cultures, there was plenty to enjoy.

Annie Thurston Pike brought her two grandchildren to the event after attending the very first one in the Ek family's driveway.

"They're a quarter Mexican," she said about her grandchildren, hoping to integrate them more into the culture.

Her grandson Orlando Salcedo said the event was "super cool."

His sister, Faith, agreed.

"It's really awesome," she said, looking around at all the vendors. "I really like it."