Thousands of muggles, witches and wizards were given the opportunity to celebrate their love of all things Harry Potter in Ithaca, New York this Halloween. Diagon Alley was their unofficial destination as the first ever Wizarding Weekend was held along the street of Press Bay Alley in Ithaca, New York. The event was posted just over 2 weeks ago and quickly went viral, amassing national news coverage and becoming a major event. The magical turn out yesterday proved just how strong the pull of those unforgettable characters and stories will always be.
The Inquisitr reported on the Wizarding Weekend event last week, sharing that all willing to celebrate with in the “childhood dreamscape, Diagon Alley,”should make their way to the streets of Press Bay, Ithaca since they had plans to recreate the Harry Potter locale in style. Centering this October 31, Halloween celebration around Harry Potter gave fans from near and far the chance to celebrate together as a community. The Ithaca Voice published a piece revealing one fan said she had traveled all the way from Athens, Pennyslvania with her friends in order to partake in the Ithaca Wizarding event. The fact that she was not out of place in her robe was a huge plus for the Harry Potter fan and remarks were made regarding the amazing diversity of fans of both the film and book series.
The resourcefulness of the volunteers and businesses were more than evident. A giant silver dragon representing the Gringotts Wizarding Bank from the “real” Diagon Alley was also on display.
In addition to the Boxy Bikes Quidditch match that was promised during the Wizarding Weekend, there were surprise events that were entirely unique to the Harry Potter World. For anyone who always wished for but sadly never got their own acceptance letter from Hogwarts, the opportunity was made available by the wonderful people of Ithaca. Hagrid paid a visit to sign and issue acceptance letters, as well as deliver the much needed school supplies list to a seemingly endless line of fans. Chamber of Secrets introduced fans to the game of “Wizard Chess” and attendees were given the chance to dive into a game as well, at their own risk, of course. The mingling witches, wizards and muggles also could participate in or simply enjoy high-energy Wizard duels, which placed the magical participants about 20 feet apart and declared the winner the first dueler to “cast” their spell.
The event spread beyond the original Press Bay Alley and spilled into the streets, some of which had to be closed to traffic as Downtown Ithaca was invaded, Harry Potter style, on Halloween. Syracuse reported that there were also screenings of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the State Theater. The Downtown Ithaca Alliance joined forces with the organizers of the event, local businesses and the thousands of volunteers to expand the wizardly events. The Hogwarts House common room was recreated for photo taking purposes with furniture from Mimi’s Attic and 150 pumpkins donated by Wegman’s.
The organizer of the Facebook Wizarding Weekend event was previously identified as the owner of Life’s So Sweet Chocolates. The owner, Darlynne Overbaugh, reported that at the end of the day there was nothing left to say but, “mischief managed.” The store saw Harry Potter fans making off with all 1,152 bottles of Butterscotch beer and a total of 500 Harry Potter chocolate frogs and at least the same number of chocolate owls. All the stores on the Press Bay Alley that were transformed into Diagon Alley for the event saw these tremendous returns. Reportedly, the Press Cafe saw more customers within the hour than they sometimes experience on a daily basis. The handmade wands and brooms, made of 8 different types of wood, from Alecvanders (a play on Potter’s Ollivanders) had sold over 40 within the first 40 minutes. All 50 wands at the Press Bay Alley store, Amuse were sold out, in addition to most of their House scarves and Hogwarts house-themed candles. The owner, Kristina Thelen, said she was apprehensive about how the crowds would react but the fans proved they were only there for the love.
“People immediately were just so happy to be here and that was just so touching in every way.Everybody was so excited to geek out on Harry Potter. That was the universal theme.”
Allegedly, the huge success that was this Halloween’s Wizarding Weekend, now has Ithaca considering the possibility of making the event an annual one.
[Photo via Press Bay Alley/Instagram]