Chestnut Hill: Harry Potter World Casts Spell Over Germantown Avenue

Children and adults took a seat for a "sorting ceremony," at which they were named to one of four houses within Hogwarts.
Walt Maguire assumed the role of Albus Dumbledore, the head of Hogwarts, a fictional school from the Harry Potter series.

Most days, Walt Maguire works with Web content at Fox Chase Cancer Center. This weekend, he slipped into a silver cloak and became Albus Dumbledore, also known as the long-bearded professor from the Harry Potter world.

Maguire was one of many who dressed the part of witches and wizards from the popular series as Germantown Avenue stores transformed into shops from the books for Harry Potter Weekend. The Night Kitchen became Madame Puddifoot’s Tea Shoppe. The Chestnut Hill Local became The Daily Prophet.

For Maguire, becoming Dumbledore wasn’t a difficult task, he said.

“I read the books myself and then I’ve been reading them to my daughter, so I’ve ended up having to do all the voices while I read them,” he said.

Festivities for the weekend included a Defense Against the Dark Arts class, “The Hunt for the Horcrux” scavenger hunt, a make-your-own, Muggle-wand station and a “sorting hat” ceremony.

During the sorting ceremony, children were able to reenact a scene from the movie in which they were told which house from the fictional school, Hogwarts, they would be named to.

Children and adults took a seat for a “sorting ceremony,” at which they were named to one of four houses within Hogwarts.

Geoffrey Beatty, an animation instructor at Philadelphia University, managed a station at which children could “fly a broom” in front of a green screen. Videos became part of a mock front-page of The Daily Prophet, the series’ newspaper of record known for its moving photos.

“We thought this may be a good way to use our skills…and fulfill every kid’s dream of riding on a broom through the clouds,” Beatty said, noting that the videos would be sent to families via email.

Beatty was assisted by seniors Thomas Donkin and Thomas Gathercole.

Children and parents alike came dressed in their best Harry Potter themed gear.

Storm Swain, a Mount Airy resident, and her 5-year-old son, Theo Swain-Harding, dressed in black cloaks. They’ve listened to all of the books on tape, she said.

Chestnut Hill was a perfect fit for the temporary setting of the Harry Potter world, Swain said.

“It lends [itself] to Harry Potter and Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley,” Swain said. She added that her son’s favorite stop of the weekend was to “Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes,” known most days as O’Doodles.

Harry Potter Weekend is sponsored by the Chestnut Hill Business Association. The next theme weekend in Chestnut Hill will be Dickens Weekend on Dec. 8 and 9.

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