Mischief Managed: Here’s a look back at Harry Potter in the valley

Kids dressed up in costume sample wizard candy at a party at the Bookworm of Edwards in 2014.
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The official International Harry Potter Day might be on May 2 – for non-Potterheads out there, that’s the date the infamous Battle of Hogwarts where Harry defeats evil Lord Voldemort once and for all – but July 31 is also a big deal in the Harry Potter universe. Both Harry and J.K. Rowling have birthdays today.

The Harry Potter series took the world by storm in the late ‘90s and into the ‘00s, and its legacy has carried on today. Rowling’s coming-of-age tale of a young, orphaned wizard who attends the magical academy, Hogwarts, has sold more than 500 million books worldwide as of 2018 and has been translated into 80 languages. The eight movies have grossed more than $2 billion.

Aside from the books and the movies, there are many other ways fans have connected with the Potter universe. Rowling wrote the Broadway play, “The Cursed Child,” and its corresponding script. Fans can experience magic right before their eyes at the Universal Studios replica of Hogwarts in Orlando, or tour the old filming studio in Leavesden outside of London.

Rowling also wrote books that appear in the Hogwarts library, including “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” an index about magical creatures by Newt Scamander. Fantastic Beasts has become the most recent Harry Potter installment as movie franchise of its own, chronicling Scamander – played by Eddie Redmayne – working to capture and study magical creatures in 1920’s-era wizarding New York City.

Historically, July has been a big month for Potter fans. Books, especially the later ones in the series, were released in July, and so were several of the movies. As the series, first published in 1997 in the U.K under the name, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” turns 22 this year, here’s a look back at Harry Potter in the Rocky Mountains.

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2003-2007: Bookworm of Edwards hosts release parties for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

The Bookworm of Edwards’ “Deathly Hallows” release party saw more than 100 Potterheads turning up to read the final book. This photo from 2014 shows a Sorting Hat ceremony.
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Common at bookstores around the country, the Bookworm hosted parties to celebrate the release of books, especially later ones in the series, when the hype was at its prime. Security was tight around the release of these books; all the boxes containing fresh, first-edition hardbacks were ordered to be kept closed until the official release time at 12:01 a.m.

“The UPS drivers, the truckers – everybody has to sign affidavits,” Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro told the Vail Daily in 2005.

At the Bookworm’s parties, they’d show one of the movies outside, have Harry Potter-themed snacks and then, at precisely 12:01 a.m., booksellers would cut open the boxes and hand out copies.

The Deathly Hallows’ party, naturally, was the biggest one. More than 100 people showed up to participate in a costume contest, drink butterbeer and show off their knowledge in trivia.

“It’s definitely just part of the fabric of being a reader and becoming a reader, reading those books,” Magistro said. “While we were selling the books, kids, adults, everyone, they just sat down in the bookstore and started reading. They didn’t go home. I remember being completely amazed by that. Many people stayed up the whole night and read it cover to cover.”

2017: Vail Public Library hosts Harry Potter Parties for kids and teens

A Potter fan poses in November 2017 during a Quidditch match at the Vail Public Library’s Harry Potter party.
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After walking through a replica Diagon Alley, kids and teens celebrating Harry Potter at the Vail Public Library’s event got to creat their own wand at Ollivander’s famed historic wand shop, play Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit at Flourish and Blotts magical bookstore and create a slimy potion at the apothecary. They tried on the Sorting Hat and were stored into Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin.

Outside on the lawn, hoops and brooms were set up for a game of Quidditch – don’t worry, there were no rogue bludgers chasing players around and causing them to break their arm and subsequently lose their bones from a poorly-cast spell. The 3D printer was opened for teens to try their hand at making Deathly Hallows symbols. And of course, like any good Potter event, costumes were encouraged.

Parties in 2017 took place in January and November.

2018: Wizard rock band Harry and the Potters play in Steamboat

Harry and the Potters’ most famous song is called “Save Ginny Weasley.”
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Wizards in the books and movies have their own music, separate from the music of non-magic Muggle folk. Some of the biggest names in the wizard music industry are The Weird Sisters and Celestina Warbeck.

Some die-hard Harry Potter fans expanded on the idea of wizard rock, and created actual, real-life, recording and touring bands whose songs all pay tribute to the Harry Potter series. Some acts populating the genre include Draco and the Malfoys and Ministry of Magic, but none are more famous than Harry and The Potters.

Harry and the Potters played a gig for the Strings Music Festival in Steamboat last year, and co-founding brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge have been active since releasing their eponymous debut record in 2003 after forming in Norwood, Massachusetts.

“I’ve been trying to get them to Steamboat for over a year so it should be awesome,” said Katie Carroll, Strings Music Festival director of artistic administration and education, in 2018 ahead of the show.

2019: The Vail Public Library hosts another Harry Potter Party

The Vail Public Library’s Harry Potter party in 2019 had the same activities as the 2017 parties, plus butterbeer, movie screenings and a Bertie Bott’s taste tests.

Two years later, the Potter party still hosts some of the same activities from years previously, but additional activities were added. Kids could try to guess flavors of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans – which, as Ron puts it in the “Sorcerer’s Stone” movie, come in flavors like “chocolate and peppermint, and there’s also spinach, liver and tripe.” During a showing of the “Goblet of Fire” movie, guests could drink butterbeer and eat vegetables from Herbology teacher Professor Sprout’s own garden.

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