A week ago, on July 27, I attended Coronado Public Library’s annual “Harry Potter Day.” I wish I had gone as a child. The Winn Room looked magical, lit minimally and smelling of sweet potions.
The volunteers seemed very excited as they chatted about what personas they would portray for the children. They rushed around to get dressed and put the finishing touches on their stalls. Meanwhile, I was outfitted with a bag of Daily Prophets* [The Daily Prophet is a wizarding newspaper based in London. It is the primary source of news for British wizards] to hand out.
Sadie and Marina, both 8, were first in line for the event. They bounced on the balls of their feet, trying to peer through the window into the hallway adjacent to the Winn room. They were most excited about quidditch* [In the world of the Harry Potter novels and movies, Quidditch is a magical competitive sport involving flying contestants] and getting sorted* [The Sorting Hat is a sentient hat at Hogwarts that magically determines which of the four school Houses each new student belongs most to], and both said their favorite book was either the first or the fifth one.
“It’s so weird. They (ministry officials) berate him (Harry Potter) and then ask for his help. Why do that?” Marina exclaimed after stating that she liked the look of the Ministry of Magic.
At 2:30 the doors opened and the chattering of children drifted in. They were sorted outside the Winn Room and took the Floo network* [The Floo Network is a mode of transportation in the wizarding world in which a witch or wizard goes from one place to another by means of Floo powder and a fireplace] into a land of wonder. Volunteer Katy Acuna handed out galleons, sickles and nuts in a carrying pouch so that no Hogwarts attendee would go without supplies.
One mother walked through the door and gasped audibly.
“Oh my gosh, they did such a stunning job,” Roberta Lenert said. “The attention to detail in the books…it’s like going into the world and seeing the whole thing is amazing!”
Acuna directed the children to Olivander’s and other shops and the other volunteers mystified them with their stories and magic.
At Olivander’s, a wand chose each child. No two wands were alike, just as no two children are.
Children also adopted owls.
They drank Butterbeer* [Butterbeer was a popular wizarding beverage described as tasting “a little bit like less-sickly butterscotch”].
Many found mermaids and bought pendants.
They got out of class by eating Fever Fudge, so they could eat Exploding Bonbons all afternoon.
Older wizards read the children’s fortune,
which were all great as everyone took some Felix Felicis* [the “Felix Felicis” potion gives the drinker good luck]!
The new students also prepared for the year with flying keys, new brooms, and special stationary. One young man declared the Butterbeer was delicious. I handed out Daily Prophets as I wandered around and observed. Children complimented each other’s outfits and compared wands. Parents snapped photos with fervor.
“We planned our trip around Harry Potter Day,” Jennifer Ickes, the mother of several participants said, “and drove all through the night to be back!”
Her children and their friends ran around outside the Winn room after buying all of their school supplies, practicing spells as they waited for Quidditch to start.
“I would say it is very exciting and is the best book I’ve ever read,” Peyton P. said to those who question whether or not they should read it.
His sister, Sadie P., also endorsed the books, as well as the library. She said it is a wonderful place and that they go to Harry Potter Day every year.
Finally, at 4 pm, Quidditch began. EllenJoy Weber assigned children to either the Hufflepuff or Slytherin teams. They tied their sashes around their arms and lined up to be assigned positions.
Each team consisted of one keeper, three chasers and two beaters. The Keeper is in charge of blocking scores from being made while the Chasers try to throw the “Quaffle” (a volleyball) through the three ring posts to score points. The Beaters hit “Bludgers” (they threw beanbags) towards the opposite team’s chasers to cause them to drop the Quaffle. Each Chaser was only allowed to take two steps before passing the Quaffle or trying to score.
The children played four games before the Junior Volunteers’ teams came on. The first game ended 11-1 in favor of Hufflepuff. The second tied 11-11. The third was another Hufflepuff win with a score of 3-2. Hufflepuff neatly tied up their domination in the third game with a score of 7-3.
There is a reason Harry Potter is popular enough to have such an event. Children and adults alike love the series, understandably so. Themes of magic, friendship and the power of love are powerful ones.
“I like a lot of the messages,” associate librarian Jennifer Herring said. She explained that the books have a way of teaching about many issues without directly bringing reality into it, such as blood purity being a metaphor for race.
Personally, I think the novels do an excellent job of showing just how gray the world is – very few people are all bad or all good. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and loved being able to participate and write about Harry Potter Day. If you haven’t read the books or gone to the event, you have a year before the 19th annual: get to work!