Library to have ‘PotterPalooza’

Artists have designed sets for the festival, and these creations can be purchased for $300 each before the July 20 event.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — Muggles, wizards and all magical creatures from Harry Potter’s world are welcome when the Lambertville Public Library presents a free evening of "PotterPalooza," a Hogwarts festival for all ages.
   Adults as well as children are invited, but not required, to dress up as one of the characters in the J.K. Rowling novels. The July 20 outdoor event coincides with the midnight release on July 21 of the seventh and final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
   Visitors will think they’ve stepped straight into the pages of a book as they visit life-sized versions of the shops of Diagon Alley and Hogwarts’ Great Hall created by scenic artist Sean Mount.
   The artistic creations are for sale with proceeds benefiting the Friends of the Library.
   "We wanted to work with Sean because he is a fine artist, and these pieces needed to be more than just sets," said Sara Scully, one of the organizers of the Nickelodeon Nights outdoor film series, which is presenting one of the Harry Potter films at the festival. "We wanted them to be quality keepsakes for Potter fans."
   Nickelodeon Nights also will present live music sponsored by radio station WDVR.
   Children’s librarian Jennifer Sirak will costume herself as Professor McGonnigall for the evening. Other library staff will turn into Hagrid and Dumbledore, and volunteers are coming as other characters.
   The library no longer is taking orders for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." It has offered them at the discounted rate of $20. The books will be distributed at the festival at 12:01 a.m.
   All orders must be made in person and paid in cash. Preordered books must be picked up from the library by Monday, July 23. The books will not be sold through the library after the release weekend.
   Everyone is welcome at the event whether or not they order a book.
   "We’re hoping for 500 people," Ms. Sirak said. "It’s not all at once. People that plan to stay until midnight likely won’t come for the earlier activities."
   Conversely, she said, younger guests will enjoy the earlier activities, but likely will be home and readying for bed by the time the movie is shown, and the book is released.
   "We’re trying to structure it for kids of every age whether they know Harry Potter or not so even younger siblings will have a craft to do. It’s good for all ages," Ms. Sirak said.
   She said she expects some lively discussions surrounding the Harry Potter mania, including speculation whether the author has killed off Harry Potter in the latest book.
   "I don’t think J.K. Rowling would do that to her fans," Ms. Sirak said. "I trust she will not end the series on a dark note. I trust her to give it a positive ending."
   Ms. Sirak said she recently re-read the first six books so she could be fully prepared for the discussions.
   "It’s like a community book club," she said. "Somebody said they’re calling this the ‘Summer of Potter.’"
   From 5 to 8:30 p.m., activities and demonstrations are scheduled. Visitors can browse the "shops" of Diagon Alley where they can be sorted by the talking hat and participate in the tri-wizard tournament.
   Classes from Hogwarts also will be available. Children can make a hat, a wand or an owl. Face-painting also will be available.
   "Science-telling," which uses science to tell a story, will feature a demonstration of herbology and potions presented by Andrew Piccirillo of Hillsborough.
   Nature educator Pam Newitt of Lower Makefield will address the care of magical creatures. Among her featured guests will be spiders, snakes and insects.
   In the tri-wizard tournament, participants must complete three tasks to win a prize. The first will ask them to battle a dragon to retrieve a golden egg from its nest. The second task asks them to save a friend from the mer-people under the lake when they’ll dig in sand under a lake-like canopy to find a figurine. The third task requires the navigation of a maze.
   The movie, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," will be shown at 9 p.m. and will run until about 11:40 p.m. It is presented by Nickelodeon Nights as part of its outdoor summer series of open-air movie showings.
   Other movies during the season are shown in Mary Sheridan Park, but the July 20 movie will be shown on the grounds of the library.
   Refreshments will be available for purchase.
   The event will be held rain or shine. In the event of rain, the activities will be relocated to the Bach Ballet and Downtown Performing Arts Center on Mount Hope Street.
   To inquire about purchasing one of the specially created pieces of Potter’s world at $300 each, e-mail [email protected]. The purchase is tax-deductible. Delivery is free with purchase, after the event.
   If the sets don’t sell before, they will be sold to the highest bidder in a silent auction at the event with bidding starting at $300 each.
   The installation of the artistic set pieces was the brainchild of Ms. Scully and fellow volunteer Brad Sanford. Scenic designers Chris Hartman and Jim Curtis Sr. volunteered to design specific pieces, and architect Shannon Sanderson of Sanderson Design provided free site planning services.
   The project was built entirely with donated materials from Mike Cherkezian, AT&T and Niece Lumber and Contractors Supply. Downtown Performing Arts Center and Bach Ballet donated the studio space where the scenery pieces were created.