Hundreds of people from near and far, adorned with hooded robes and pointed hats, populated the Commons for Ithaca’s third annual Wizarding Weekend, a celebration that provides enthusiastic magic-lovers the opportunity to revel in the memory of their favorite wizarding series.
The event kicked off on Friday in Downtown Ithaca with a costume parade, where participants fashioned their Halloween costumes as they walked from the Greater Ithaca Activities Center to the Commons.
The festival continued throughout the weekend with live music from groups including the New Roots Steel Drum Ensemble and the Fall Creek Brass Band, as well as food vendors, street performers and magicians, converting Press Bay Alley into the Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series that wizarding enthusiasts were more familiar with.
Angela Harris, who lives just outside Syracuse, came to the event on Saturday with a friend for the first time and said that the mixture of costumes with small street vendors created an enjoyable atmosphere.
While waiting in line for the “Sorting Hat” attraction, which revealed which Harry Potter house individuals belonged in, Harris said she would like to return to this event in future years.
“I think we will come every year because there’s a lot of nice, like-minded people that like Harry Potter,” Harris said. “Everybody is just having fun.”
April Townson ’20 volunteered at the event through Into the Streets, a volunteer-based program hosted by Cornell that sends students downtown for the University’s largest day of community service.
Townson, who was selling t-shirts that read “Ithaca is Wizards,” said that there was a lot of volume and the role of Cornell student volunteers was to facilitate the overall experience for festival-goers.
Hannah Thompson, an Ithaca local who currently resides in Massachusetts, said she had to take off from work so that she could make the six-hour drive to attend the event.
“I grew up both in Ithaca and with Harry Potter,” Thompson said. “One of my first memories is going to the first Harry Potter movie with my parents.”
Thompson expressed how happy she was to have this event in her hometown, because it enabled her to share moments from her childhood with close friends and family.
“There is a really unique community here in Ithaca and there is a unique vibe that all of these festivals have,” Thompson said. “It’s really inclusive and excited. Everyone is just wandering around and experiencing the events that are being hosted.”
While there was some apprehension on the Facebook page of the event after heavy rain was forecasted for Sunday, organizers issued a statement that “rain does not stop magic, it just makes it more interesting.”
Despite the gloomy weather, several enthusiasts made their way down to the Commons, but a dramatic decrease in attendance was visible.
Festival-goers were also thrilled with the Harry-Potter themed food that was available at numerous stalls.
Thompson believed that the organic quality of Ithacan food and craft vendors contributed a personal touch to the event.
“Local vendors specifically made products for Harry Potter to celebrate,” Thompson said. “It is really cool seeing that at a community level and seeing kids that are going to start growing up with Harry Potter on their own.”