When the wizards come marching in
Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill will receive a magical makeover this weekend during its first annual Harry Potter Weekend, a joint effort put on by the Chestnut Hill Business Association and Chestnut Hill College.
The event features a Potter-themed pub crawl on Friday night in Chestnut Hill, an all-day Quidditch tournament on Saturday and a slew of restaurants, bars and shops on Germantown Avenue featuring Potter promotions throughout the weekend along Germantown Avenue.
“It seemed like a really natural fit,” said Mary Kate May, a Chestnut Hill resident who led the Harry Potter Weekend board.
One of May’s favorite things about the Harry Potter series is that her husband, her five and six-year-old children and herself all enjoy it together. May’s husband Brendan, a former Broadway actor, will appear in character as Professor Dumbledore for the weekend, while members of Chestnut Hill College’s Mask and Foil Drama Club will portray the rest of the Harry Potter cast on Sunday.
Dumbledore will lead the opening ceremonies for Harry Potter weekend on Friday night at 6 on top of the Hill Fountain Plaza with the ceremonial flying of Hedwig the owl, or a very convincing look alike at the least. In the Harry Potter books, owls are messengers to the wizards, and Hedwig the owl is Harry Potter’s first pet.
Afterwards, wizards who are 21 and over can embark on a pub crawl to Campbell's Place, Chestnut Grill & Sidewalk Cafe, Chestnut 7, Tavern on the Hill, and McNally's Tavern, which has been renamed The Leaky Cauldron for the weekend. The $15 admission price includes a tee shirt and a chance to win free prizes along the way.
Kate O’Neal, who serves on the Chestnut Hill Business Association, estimates 40 local businesses involved with Harry Potter Weekend.
“Some of the businesses know very little about Harry Potter, and some are fans on a whole other level,” O’Neal says, who is also a Harry Potter aficionado.
Initially, Saturday’s main event seems like it’s a set up for a dirty joke without a punch line -- ‘What do you call groups of college girls and guys chasing each other around grabbing a stick between their legs?’ The serious answer is Quidditch, a beloved game among wizards in the Harry Potter books where teams fly on broom stick and with the goal of launching a ball through any of three silver rings.
There won’t be any flying on Saturday, but around 12 college and community Quidditch teams straddling broomsticks will compete in the Brotherly Love Cup at the Chestnut Hill College soccer field from 12 to noon on Saturday.
Kathi Spigelmeyer, of Chestnut Hill College, says collegiate Quidditch originated at Middlebury College in Vermont in 2007, and has since surged as an official campus sport throughout the country. Saturday’s tournament will feature Chestnut Hill College’s team competing against teams from Delaware Valley through state college, Maryland and New York.
Additionally, Professor Sprouts will also teach herbology at Robertson’s Flowers from 10 to 5 on Saturday.
Sunday concludes with a parade and costume contest at 2 on Sunday afternoon beginning at the Chestnut Hill Business Association on 8426 Germantown Avenue.
For more information on Harry Potter Weekend please visit the Chestnut Hill Business Association web site.
Oh, and bring your own broom.