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by Pete Mazzaccaro

Once again, Chestnut Hill over the weekend was a strange scene. Beginning Friday evening and all of Saturday, Germantown Avenue was covered in black-clad wizard wannabes who played games, participated in spell-casting classes and listened to readings inspired by J.K. Rowling’s enduring Harry Potter fictional series.

The festivities kicked off with a Friday pub crawl – one that was recently featured on a list of the top 12 weirdest pub crawls in the world on thrillist.com

And, of course, there was the Brotherly Love Quidditch Cup at Chestnut Hill College, the event that started the whole thing.

Now in its fifth year as a community-wide event, Martha Sharkey, director of the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District and Business Association, said this year’s Harry Potter weekend was the biggest and best the community has had yet, with estimates placing the crowd at nearly 12,000.

“We experienced a magical weekend in Chestnut Hill,” she said. “The crowd was incredible. It was the largest number of fans we have seen travel to Chestnut Hill for this festival. We are thrilled to partner with Chestnut Hill College, along with so many Chestnut Hill businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations, to create this amazing event.”

From Saturday’s kickoff ceremony at Chestnut Hill West to an early evening showing of “Prisoner of Azkaban” at the Hill Company, sidewalks on the Avenue were crowded with Potter fans from far and wide.

“We introduced Chestnut Hill to so many visitors from near and far this weekend,” Sharkey said. “In addition to the attendees close to home, we welcomed Harry Potter fans from Seattle, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, and Western Pennsylvania, to name a few. The Harry Potter Festival is a true fan festival for people of all ages.”