The community’s annual Harry Potter Festival has become so popular that officials have decided to close a portion of Germantown Avenue during the event, which runs this year from Oct. 21-22.
According to Chestnut Hill Local editor Pete Mazzaccaro, the neighborhood’s business association expects about 60,000 people to attend, which requires more planning and preparations in order for the festival to be safe and fun for everyone.
The business district starts planning for this event the day after the last one ends. This event attracts people from all over the country and world.
“There have been many complaints in the past concerning the safety of the citizens, since traffic is not diverted for the festival – allowing less room for the attendees as well as endangering their lives,” said Martha Sharkey, the executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
In order to accommodate all the visitors, Germantown Avenue is being closed from Rex Avenue to Willow Grove Avenue for the first time in the festival’s six-year history. Activities will extend beyond these streets, but by closing down a part of the street, it will make the festival safer for pedestrians and allow more room for activities and businesses.
The shops of Chestnut Hill are also getting ready for the event. Nicole Beltz, the owner of Serendipity, is in the process of ordering and sorting out merchandise for the event, including butter beer.
“I’m excited for the festival this year,” Beltz said. “Closing Germantown Avenue allows me to have more room for merchandise, since we are able to set things up outside our stores.”
With the abundance of people that will be attending, Chestnut Hill is working with the 14th police district to increase the amount of officers that will be working at the event.
Parking has been a problem in the past, so this year Chestnut Hill College and Morris Arboretum are opening up their parking lots for attendees. Chestnut Hill College is where the Quidditch tournament takes place.
The festival will feature many activities and events, such as a pub crawl, family movie night, pizza parties and pancake parties.
– Text, images, and map by Marie Sechuk