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Harry Potter Day: Land of the Midnight Sun Style

We Alaskans know how to get nerdy with it. Geek culture is everywhere in Anchorage—from Bosco’s Not at Comic Con festival and SenshiCon to Geeks Who Drink trivia nights and the Critical Role critters strolling around town in t-shirts—we know how to let our nerd flag fly.

Harry Potter - Welcome SignSo, when the Z. J. Loussac Library—our local Anchorage public library—decided to host a Harry Potter Day on Saturday, July 27, I knew I had to go. (And invite my sister and her friend with me, too!) I am an avid Harry Potter fan. I read all the books multiple times, watched all the movies, and got sorted into my house as soon as I possibly could. (Ravenclaws represent!) I have bed sheets and notebooks, socks and t-shirts, necklaces and earrings all dedicated to the wonderful world that is Harry Potter. I even credit my first foray into the writing world to the magical series.

Well, that Saturday in July, the Loussac Library let their love of the series shine, too. They went all out—Harry Potter decorations galore! From a 9¾ Platform area and a Welcome to Hogwarts sign to banners for each of the houses and staff dressed in costume, I could tell the library had a grand time planning this event. The place was packed—so many people spanning every age. I saw a grandmother decked out in a wizard’s hat and a baby in a Slytherin outfit, plus all the ages in between. It’s amazing how many generations the story has touched.

Harry Potter - The Daily ProphetWe grabbed a Daily Prophet map—seriously, it was formatted to look like the Daily Prophet, the wizarding world’s newspaper, with all kinds of information about the event including a map on the back, such a good idea!—and went on our merry way, intending to explore the various activities they had planned.

But first, butterbeer! We decided to do this first since I worried they’d run out. The drink was quite tasty! It was probably a butterscotch Italian soda, but it hit the spot and the cashier was dressed in costume and quick to make it. While sipping on the butterbeer, we perused the Daily Prophet map and tried out the mini activities inside it. The word jumble was surprisingly hard even for a veteran fan like myself.

Next up: The activities! The activities were based on the various Hogwarts classes, specific sections of the school, and the surrounding area, and had some educational pieces thrown in as well. For example, the Eeylops Owl Emporium had an actual owl! We sat in an educational session where we got to see a male snowy owl named Onic and learned a bit about his species.

Owl

(Education Break! Did you know that owls can’t move their eyes around like we can because of a bone that grows into their eye to keep it fixed? It’s why they swivel their heads instead! Did you know owls are silent fliers because of the comb-like edges on their feathers? We also learned that snowy owls don’t have many down feathers even though they’re arctic animals. This is because they’re bigger than most owls and have a layer of fat to keep them warm instead.)

During the presentation, the handler took Onic out so we could look at him. The handler kept misting him with water to keep him hydrated, cool, and comfortable. Being arctic animals, they like to be cold pretty much all the time. Each time she misted Onic with water, he’d puff up. Super adorable!

After the owl presentation was over, we decided to do the OWLS and NEWTS next, the qualifying exams the kids go through in Hogwarts. These turned out to be two different trivia sets, asking super specific questions about the books. We did great and got cute buttons in return.

Potions

We swung by Potions (trivia again, but with super pretty decorative bottles), Transfiguration (origami with some spare book pages, a nice touch), and Herbology (plant some wildflowers to take home). Heading into the Knockturn Alley area, we played BINGO with character faces and tried our hand at Black Out poetry. Finally, we stopped by Ollivanders to make a wand before heading out. They even put up a Quidditch pitch for kids to learn how to play. (We have a Quidditch team here in Anchorage, in case you didn’t know.)

Ravenclaw Kellie DohertyOverall, there were so many themed activities for kids and kids at heart. With Harry Potter music playing the background and staff (and patrons) in costume, it was like having a little wizarding world right here Anchorage, Alaska. A magical day of fun for all!

Having events like these, centered on an obviously beloved fantasy series, really helps to pull the community together and foster relationships with fellow nerds across the city and the state. It’s a chance to connect with others, bond over something so obviously special, and just gush about how amazing the thing is—in this case, Harry Potter. I believe we should have more events like this, celebrating fantasy literary works ranging from the all-out bestsellers like Harry Potter to the lesser known fantasy novels. It might turn some new readers on to the books, after all. In any case, it’s a chance to escape the real world for a little while and dive into something completely fantastical. And in the Loussac Library’s case, throw in a little education in there, too. That’s a magical combination indeed.

Title image by inkist.

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