[Shaw Media file photo]
[Dressed as Harry Potter, Michael Baldwin, 9, of Geneva, makes a large bubble at Wizarding World of Woodstock.]
A magical experience’
It truly was a Wizarding World in Woodstock this year.
When Mary Ryan, head of youth services at the Woodstock Public Library and a huge fan of the Harry Potter book series, came up with the idea for a free event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” she decided to keep it somewhat low-key.
She put the July 27 Wizarding World of Woodstock event on social media, promoted it a bit at the library and that was about it. Local shops and landmarks mimicked some favorite places from the books and films. Events included a scavenger hunt featuring people dressed as the characters, Quidditch in the park, a miniature Hogwarts Express, costume parades, a gift shop, trivia, food trucks, a visit from owls provided by the McHenry County Conservation District and Potter-themed crafts.
Ryan had supplies for about 150 people to do crafts at the library.
It’s estimated at least 5,000 people showed up for Woodstock’s Wizarding World. “The whole time, I was the one kind of worried a lot of people would come,” Ryan said. “We were blown away by the crowd that turned out. We were happily surprised.”
Organizers and volunteers handed out at least 4,000 maps, but think at least another 1,000 people were on the Square that night wandering around. At Read Between the Lynes, they ran out of 70 gallons of ice cream serving up Butterbeer – a wizarding beverage – milkshakes.
Still, complaints were minimal, and organizers know what to expect next time – yes, there will be a next time.
“We know we need more staff, more volunteers …,” Ryan said.
“This mattered so much to people in so many different ways,” she said. “It was a magical experience for people.”