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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Harry Potter Extravaganza casts a spell on Grinnell

This week marked the first weeklong Harry Potter Extravaganza at Grinnell College. Most Grinnell students are familiar with the magical world of Harry Potter, where spells and a magical education are the daily routine, and many Grinnellians grew up immersed in the books.

Quidditch. Photograph by Andrew Kelley.

“I’ve read all the books many times. I cried when Dobby died during the movie,” said Mary Jane Giesey ’12, the chair of the committee organizing the Extravaganza.

The Harry Potter movies have been playing each night in Bob’s Underground Cafe and will wrap up Friday night with Parts I and II of the seventh movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, at 4:30 and 7 p.m. respectively.

“My favorite Harry Potter movie is probably the first one. I just love how cute they were and I love how fun it is to see Hogwarts for the first time,” said Linnea Van Pilsum-Bloom ’14. “I remember how scared I was when I saw Voldemort on the back of Quirrell’s head!”

Even for students who have not been initiated into the fandom based on J.K. Rowling’s novels, the week had many possibilities in store. As if Harry Potter week were a dose of Polyjuice Potion, Grinnell College was transformed into a wonderland of magic, full of fun and surprises.

One of the most noticeable changes took place in the Dining Hall, which was made to replicate The Great Hall for dinner on Wednesday, replete with wizard delicacies and decorations.

“They’re setting up the tables in four long rows, with one table at the end for professors. We asked the staff to prepare traditional British foods that they eat in the books. There’s going to be Harry’s birthday cake that Hagrid made for him in the first book,” Giesey said.

The week’s main events will take place on Friday night, when the campus will be divided into Hogwarts houses, with four separate house parties occurring around campus.

“Ravenclaw is being hosted by NYAW [Not You Average Weekend] in the Pub. It’s going to be a time for people to get drinks, snacks, and hang out in a common room as if they were attending Hogwarts,” Giesey said.

The parties start at 8:30 p.m., with Lazier 3rd being transformed into the Slytherin common room, Hufflepuffs gathering in Loose and Norris hosting the Gryffindor party.

All Grinnell students received acceptance letters in their campus mailboxes, in the tradition of the books, but unlike at Hogwarts, Grinnell students don’t need a Sorting Hat—you can simply choose which of the four house parties to attend.

“I feel like Slytherin might be the most intense one, so I’ll probably go to that one,” said Cornelia Osborne ’15.

At 10 p.m., students will assemble in the Quad for one hour where a costume party and many more enchanting surprises will ensue.

“We’re going to have a witch pushing around a snack cart with themed snacks,” Giesey said. “Everyone will get a small bag of coins, and then we’re going to announce the winner of the house cup.”

After the activities in the Quad, students will take the trek down to Gardner for Grinnell’s first and most fantastic Yule Ball. Grinnellians of all years are gearing up for the weekend events and a Pottermore-esque anticipation is building for the events that will fill the void left by this summer’s conclusion of the seventh Harry Potter movie.

“In four years here, all we’ve really had is Quidditch Club and it shut down after the first year, but that was really fun,” said Charlie Kessner ’12.

Giesey and Austin Frerick ’12, ACE Coordinator, came up with the idea for this weeklong nerdfest last year during their semester abroad, and the school has immediately latched on to the idea.

“It was Austin’s and my idea [when] we were studying abroad in Botswana,” Giesey said. “He knew a lot of people would be interested in an event like this.”

Giesey and Frerick began planning early, putting events on the calendar and reserving spaces before the school year started. They then started a planning committee, open to all students.

“That’s what I think is so beautiful about this, is that it’s so organic. … Literally people can step up and be like, ‘Hey I would like to do this’ or, ‘We can do this’,” Frerick said.

While the week has taken a great deal of planning and effort on the part of many students, there is hope that this will develop into an annual event.

“I guess my hope with this party is that it becomes kind of the hallmark of my time as vice-chair, kind of like there’s something that’ll live on … it’ll become an institutional party where like, ‘Oh yeah, Harry Potter, that’s something that has to happen every November at Grinnell,’” Frerick said.

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