The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 27, 2003


Harry Potter Night at Gleason Public Library is magical

I am still grinning all over at the extraordinary phenomenon of well over fifty children eagerly attending a party in order to celebrate not a birthday, not a championship, not even the start of summer vacation, but an 870-page book.

Just before 9 p.m. last Friday night, Gleason Library welcomed a crowd of costumed witches, wizards, a basilisk (a fearsome, snake-like creature), and some other young wizarding folk cleverly disguised as Muggles (non-magic people) to "Hogwarts at Carlisle," a "branch" of the English school made famous in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. In the Hollis Room, everyone participated in the Sorting Hat Ceremony which assigned each "student" to one of four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.

Following a snack break, the new "students" attended their first Hogwarts class of the evening: a presentation by Carlisle's own Todd Arnow, associate producer and unit production manager on the movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Todd brought story boards and props from that first Potter movie, and hands shot into the air as the kids peppered him with questions about filming, the cast and cast changes, and special effects.

"Professor McGonagall" and "Headmaster Albus Dumbledore" use the Sorting Hat to assign a Hogwarts student to her house.(Photo by Mike Quayle)
A number of parents lingered to ask Arnow their own film questions as the "students" filed down to the Children's Room for a "class" in magic, presented by professional magician David Hublebank. David filled his program with humor and with volunteers from the enthusiastic audience, and the Children's Room rang with laughter and applause.

Following their "classes" in film magic and tricks, the young witches and wizards divided into their houses and engaged in the "Twelvewizard Tournament." Assisted by a distinguished crew of parent and library "faculty," all four houses spilled out into the stacks to solve riddles, find clues in books, and collect twelve treasures to bring back to the Hollis Room, where they were awarded "house points" according to the number of objects found. The lively competitors ate and enjoyed a drawing for small prizes as they settled in for the scoring process. "Gryffindor" and "Hufflepuff" vied for first place, and were allowed to draw first for grand prizes.

The evening's final activity featured the distribution of Harry Potter spectacles to each "student," followed by a flashlight reading of the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book in the series. Appetites whetted for the new book, everyone participated in the countdown to midnight: 10987654321Harry!

The crowd surged forward as copies Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were distributed, and parents had to guide their children out, as most had already started reading.

On behalf of the Friends of Gleason Public Library, who sponsored this event, I would like to extend sincere thanks to David Hubelbank, Todd Arnow, our new Library Director Angela Reddin, Trustees Mary Cheever, Phil Conti, and Brooke Cragan, Librarian Marty Seneta, and all the parents and Friends who pitched in with cheerful vigor to make this a very magical evening.
Todd Arnow instructs Hogwarts "students" in the magic of filmmaking. (Photo by Mike Quayle)

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito