Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - November 20, 2015

A little bit of Potter's world

Last Friday night, we four gals passed through a portal connecting Manhattan with Harry Potter's world. Daughters Mariya and Katie were prepared for the trip, wearing the robes they had purchased last March at Universal Studio's Harry Potter theme park. Mariya also wore a tie and Katie had a scarf draped around her neck. Each robe held a wand in the special pocket made to hold it. Mariya's friend Miriam and I were wore regular clothes, but at least Miriam had a wand.

I can attest to my complete lack of anything resembling magical skills, so it was fitting that I would be dressed as a Muggle. (In Harry's world, a Muggle is an ordinary person who lacks any magical ability.)

Mariya and Katie certainly fit right in. Wizards and witches of various ages and sizes wandered throughout the great room. There were even several Harry Potters, a Tonks with pink hair, a Moaning Myrtle, a Luna Lovegood and a Hermione. I knew then the evening would be as much fun as I expected it to be.

We first had to stand in line to be "sorted" into one of the four Hogwarts houses - Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin. Last March, Mariya, Katie and I had been sorted into the Ravenclaw house while Miriam was selected for Gryffindor by a survey we had taken on the "Pottermore" website. But Friday we needed to be sorted again and so sat in the chair wearing the "sorting hat."

The results were the same. We each were given a plastic cup and a small felt tie with our house's colors. Mariya, Katie and I were given blue ties with bronze stripes for the Ravenclaw house and Miriam received one with red and gold for Gryffindor.

Once we were properly attired with our ties in place, a photographer took pictures of us with cut-outs of characters and various items from Harry's world. We took a few selfies as well.

Then it was on to the games, including spinning a wheel for a chance to win a Time-Turner necklace. The hourglass it contains allows the wearer to time travel. Mariya and Katie each won one, but I didn't, even after three tries at the wheel - probably another sign of my lack of magical ability!

Mariya was a whiz at answering trivia questions:

Q: Who destroyed the Horcrux in Hufflepuff's cup in the Chamber of Secrets?
A: Hermione

Q: How did Harry destroy Ravenclaw's diadem?
A. Fiendfyre

Although I've read all seven books and seen all the movies, I wouldn't have been able to answer those questions.

We filled our plates from the dessert table decked out with Severus Snape sugar cookies, chocolate frogs and Crookshanks Cobbler and washed the sweets down with a Love Potion drink and Butterbeer.

Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin house banners hung from the walls and potion-like bottles and "mischief managed" parchment papers were scattered on tables. Electric candles hung here and there.

This small part of Potter's world was located in what is in reality called the Great Room. It is a part of Hale Library on the Kansas State University campus. Dedicated in 1928 and built in what is called the Collegiate Gothic style, the room was striking in it resemblance to Hogwarts Castle's Great Hall in the "Harry Potter" movies. The resemblance is so strong that university students have affectionately dubbed it the "Harry Potter Room."

The event is called the annual Harry Potter Dessert Theatre. Part of the entertainment was provided by K-State's On the Spot Improv group. They performed several skits with Harry Potter themes. I told Katie I'd never be able to improvise like that - I'm too introverted to think that quickly on my feet.

Katie said she liked that the group sponsoring the event catered to different age groups. It was family friendly, but still fun for adults.

Mariya has taught a class related to the Potter books, so it was no surprise she had a good time. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, she said:

Celebrating all things Harry Potter in the Great Room of Hale was a lot of fun. It helped create a magical atmosphere and made the desserts and games that much sweeter. I played the Felix Felices wheel game, and immediately landed on the piece that won me a Time Turner. My magical abilities came to the forefront in that moment. While waiting to be sorted (into Ravenclaw, obviously) I answered all trivia questions within seconds, thus solidifying the fact that no one should ever challenge me at a game of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit unless they want to be totally humiliated. I had a great time nerding out with all my favorite people - my seester, my momma, and my lady love!

Certainly Friday night was not on the same level as when we visited the film stage outside of London where much of the movies was shot or the Potter theme park in Florida. But our little bit of Potter's world in Manhattan proved to be a lot of fun.

Left: Our little bit of Harry Potter's world in the Great Room of KSU's Hale library; top-right: Mariya, left, and Katie with Miriam looking over Mariya's shoulder; bottom-right: Miriam wearing the sorting hat.

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