Professor Albus Dumbledore (Walt Maguire) shows Zack Murphy the proper wand technique to cast the freezing spell –  a charm that conjures a blast of freezing cold air from the end of the wand. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

Professor Albus Dumbledore (Walt Maguire) shows Zack Murphy the proper wand technique to cast the freezing spell – a charm that conjures a blast of freezing cold air from the end of the wand. (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

The Hogwarts Express came to a screeching halt at the Chestnut Hill West station at precisely 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18. Thousands of muggles, wizards, death eaters, and dementors packed the train station’s platform to get a glimpse of the famous Harry Potter – “the boy who lived.”

This year’s Harry Potter Festival had something for everyone, including a wizard chess tournament, moon bounces, crafts, live readings of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” a hunt for the Horcrux, Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, fortune tellers, a selfie park, a corn maze and Quidditch tournaments, a game that combines elements from dodgeball, basketball and rugby.

First-time visitors like Sophie Johnson, 7, of South Philadelphia, could purchase their first wand at Killian’s Wand Store, where, according to Wizard Ken Roberts, “the wand chooses the wizard.” Johnson and her mother boarded The Hogwarts Express on platform 9 ¾ at the Jefferson train station to arrive in Hogsmeade. The young wizard described the trip as “really cool.”

Professor Albus Dumbledore, the Minister of Magic, and Harry Potter cast a spell to mark the opening ceremonies.

Tesia Barone, of Mt. Airy, said she has been coming to the Harry Potter Festival with her son Foster since it began.

“It’s a family tradition,” said Barone. “My son looks forward to it every year.”

Lisa Kahudic, of Schwnenksville, heard about the Harry Potter Festival on Facebook. She said her son Jake is a huge Harry Potter fan. Jake’s grandmother, Rosalie Riddell, who was dressed as Professor Minerva McGonagall, said Jake just finished showing her the proper technique for using her wand.

Joanne Quici, of Upper Dublin, is an experienced wizard, who comes every year to the festival.

“My daughter and her husband and friends come and meet me every year around noon for cocktails,” said Quici, who was holding her baby dragon “Norbert III” on her arm.

“It’s wonderful,” she added. “I love it.”

No doubt Quici and her friends plan on devouring a few delicious wizard treats: butterbeer, Dementor cocktails, pumpkin pasties, chocolate wands, treacle tarts, exploding lemonade, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, pretzel swords of Gryffindor, pumpkin juice, cauldron cakes, butterbeer cupcakes and many more.

For the fearless, fortune tellers were on hand. Jacob Randles, 10, of Williamstown, N.J., was not afraid to take a glimpse into his future.

The fortune teller, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her identity from “he who shall not be named,” told him he has a “powerful character” that she hopes he will use only for good.

Randles said that she explained while he is strong in muscle, he is also strong in spirit.

His fortune card said “Be kind to Muggles.” Good advice for all wizards – at least that’s what this muggle thinks.

  • Walt Maguire

    I think I recall Jake having a lively conversation with Prof. Dumbledore about how useful the spell Alohomora could be in everyday life if you’ve forgotten your keys or if you were having trouble opening jars.

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