OTTUMWA — Kids and parents experienced Harry Potter’s world Tuesday afternoon at the Ottumwa Public Library.
They watched the first Harry Potter movie, determined their house, played Quidditch, Harry Potter Bingo and got to pursue some crafts.
Youth Services Librarian Allyson Kirking came up with the idea. She wanted kids and parents to have fun during winter vacation and on the last day of the decade.
“We try and do several events over winter break,” she said. “We wanted the kids have things to do when they’re out of school and this year we just decided that a Harry Potter party might be fun because everybody loves Harry Potter and they always seem to have movie marathons on around Christmas.”
Kirking herself is not a Harry Potter fan, but still had a lot of fun preparing for the party and helping out.
“I do appreciate Harry Potter,” she said. “I’ve seen all the movies and fantasy is not really my thing, but I appreciate why it’s so popular. One of the things people get out of it is the strong sense of friendship between the main characters. I think that’s what keeps people coming back for more adventures with Harry, Ron and Hermione.”
The volunteers helping out at the party said they were huge Harry Potter fans. Teenager Madison Baskett managed the “fish out a house from the pot.” Kids took a string with a magnet attached to a wand and then had to say “wingardium leviosa” to see what house they got on paper.
One little boy loved the fact that he got two houses, but then Baskett encouraged him to try to get one house. He was dismayed at the house he got. He said he wanted Slytherin and not Gryffindor.
Baskett loved managing the game and dressing up. Her house is Slytherin, but she had a Gryffindor robe on because she couldn’t find a Slytherin robe. Nonetheless, she was happy to volunteer for the rest of the afternoon. She loved the costumes and introducing others to Harry Potter.
“I hope they get into it like I got into it,” Baskett said. “I love this series, I love the magical elements to it.”
Maria Russo, another volunteer managed Quidditch. It this particular one, kids had three chances to throw the ball into one of the rings. If they made it into all three rings, they got a stamp that represented the different houses.
Younger kids stopped to ask her about Harry Potter which is what made Russo smile. She wanted to volunteer to expose others to Harry Potter.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to maybe encourage it,” she said. “I’ve always loved the magic that it represents. It’s just really cool to see how they would take something from the movie and make it into something that kids would have fun with.”
“A lot of people feel like dark magic kind of breaks away from making it more like a religious concept,” she added, “but it really is just fun to allow yourself to step into another world and it’s still make believe.
Russo and Kirking said the purpose of the Harry Potter extended beyond the fun of magic and dressing up in costumes.
“It does encourage more children to come to the library more because there’s more things to do,” Russo said. “I think people stray away from the library because [they think] ‘oh you’re just going to check out books,’ but there’s so much more than that. People can watch the movie and have some snacks and stuff.”
“We want to show people there’s a lot going on at the library,” Kirking said. “There’s a lot of regulars, but it was a pretty good turnout for today.”