By Pete Mazzaccaro
When news broke last month that the annual Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival was going to be dramatically downsized, there were rumors that Chestnut Hill College’s Brotherly Cup Quidditch Tournament would also be curtailed or even cancelled altogether.
Kathleen Spigelmeyer, Chestnut Hill College general counsel and assistant to the president told the Local that nothing could be further from the truth.
“To my understanding there’s no diminishing of student enthusiasm for quidditch or of spectators who come to see quidditch as spectators,” she told the Local last week. “We plan to have a good time here on campus just like we always have.”
Quidditch, a magical sport that’s played by wizard school rivals in the Potter series, has become a popular sport in the real world with multiple universities and recreation leagues fielding teams. Chestnut Hill College’s team was organized nine years ago for the school’s first annual tournament.
While many of the activities of the Germantown Avenue Potter festival were called into question by attorneys for Warner Bros., which owns the rights to the film franchise, Spigelmeyer said that the college has been in contact with those same attorneys who cleared all of the college’s activities.
The college said it has not made any money on the tournament and sees it simply as a way to support its students. And it’s also good for the college.
“The college supports Quidditch because it gives the college visibility both in the community and outside of the community,” Spigelmeyer said. “We like to support the students in the activities they enjoy.”
In addition to the Quidditch Tournament, the college’s 7th annual Academic Conference will not only continue but it will be expanded to run on both Friday and Saturday, a schedule that was impossible because of how large the Saturday festival had become. It will take place on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday Oct. 20.
The conferences organizers, Dr. Karen Wendling and Dr. Patrick McCauley, said the recent “viral” nature of the festival had made simply getting to and parking at the college for the academic conference a real challenge.
“The event had become big enough that it’s the Dad Vail Regatta,” McCauley said. “A lot of people will come without advertising and they’ll end up here. When they go online they’ll find us.”
While the academic conference is popular – -450 people registered before registration was closed – she noted that it’s not a convention. The conference is a legitimate academic conference that features dozens of academics in various disciplines delivering research papers.
“We have fun,” she said, noting there are costumes and that most talks are delivered at a popular level, so you don’t need a Ph.D. to understand. “But it is serious scholarship.”
McCauley said that he expects enthusiasm to peak when the conference comes around again.
Things go in cycles and patterns based on stimuli,” he said. “Last year there were two Star Wars films and no wizarding world movie, so the fantasy realm went Star Wars that year., This year there will be a new Fantastic Beasts (a Potter-related film series written by Potter author J.K. Rowling) and there’s not going to be any Star Wars competing. The pitch is open for us. That’s going to drive a lot of attention.”
So while Potter fans won’t have the same selection of entertainment in Germantown Avenue, the neighborhood’s Harry Potter offerings will still be strong at Chestnut Hill College.
For more information or to register for the Harry Potter Academic Conference, visit harrypotterconference.com
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or email@example.com