Vail Public Library hosts virtual party for Harry Potter’s 40th birthday
Editor’s note: J.K. Rowling has recently faced backlash for making transphobic comments on Twitter. Many in the Harry Potter community have spoken out against Rowling’s comments and in support of transgender rights. Most notably, actor Daniel Radcliffe wrote in an article published on The Trevor Project’s website: “If you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred.” This article will focus on the Harry Potter series itself and how the Vail Public Library is sharing the story with our youngest generation of readers.
Attention witches, wizards, magical creatures and Muggles: you’ll be needing a big cake and a lot of birthday candles this year. Harry Potter is turning 40.
The Boy Who Lived was born on July 31, 1980, and while the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult for communities to gather and celebrate, The Vail Public Library has organized a special virtual birthday party that starts at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
At the party, guests will play Harry Potter trivia and discuss their favorite movie and book scenes. Delaney Daly curated the trivia questions, and of course, she started looking on wizardingworld.com, the official Harry Potter site once known as Pottermore.
“I just reaffirmed that I was, in fact, a Ravenclaw,” Daly said, noting that she re-took J.K. Rowling’s official Sorting Hat quiz, the mac-daddy of all house placement tests.
She gathered some facts from quizzes on that site, and Cricket Pylman let her borrow a “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” trivia game, from which she also pulled questions. There will be 4-5 questions for each book in the original series, and perhaps some for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
Potter fans are bursting with anticipation for the party.
“I was having kids and their parents email me: ‘when are we going to get the login info?’” Daly said.
This whole week, leading up to Harry’s actual birthday on Friday, July 31, the Vail Public Library has been sharing Potterverse-related activities through all age groups: preschool & K-grade 3; grades 4-6 and middle/teens. Test your wand at making Butterbeer, design Quidditch robes and send sketches to Cricket Pylman and Ali Murray, and even take Hogwarts classes online at hogwartsishere.com.
While the library is pleased to be able to offer some community programming virtually during the pandemic, its ability to craft an entire week around the series is a testament to the story’s staying power, 23 years after “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was released in the United Kingdom.
A new generation is engaging with the stories, and Daly is excited to be able to share a story she’s loved since childhood with a new generation of readers.
“It’s really just one of those things that sucks you in. I remember being a little kid and reading ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t think there’s anything better than this.’ I was totally obsessed,” she said.
That childhood obsession has continued today.
“I’m obsessed with those movies. I will literally drop everything to watch those movies,” Daly said.
But moreso than that, the story has built a great community, from book release parties to online fandom groups that have evolved as much as technology has in the 21st century.
“There’s a big community aspect to Harry Potter and it’s an escape into another world. But the themes are still the same. We still are living through the same stuff that Harry and Ron and Hermione live through,” Daly said.