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Northwestern becomes school for wizards

Campus to host events leading up to release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”
  • Northwestern to host Quidditch match, costume contest and magic classes
  • Partnering with City of Evanston for July 30 book release party
  • “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is eighth installment in “Harry Potter” series

EVANSTON - For one day only, Northwestern will magically transform into a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to celebrate the release of J.K. Rowling’s latest book, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

Northwestern is partnering with the City of Evanston and Evanston Public Library to host a book release party July 30, leading up to the midnight unveiling of the eighth official installment in the wildly popular “Harry Potter” series.

Events start at noon with a reading relay at the Evanston Public Library. Participants will read aloud as much of the first seven “Harry Potter” books as they can before the midnight release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

When the library closes, the action moves to Northwestern University’s Deering Library, which many Northwestern students fondly refer to as “Hogwarts.” Participants will play a Quidditch match on Deering Meadow, just east of Sheridan Road. Behind the doors of Deering Library, specially-skilled wizarding professors will teach classes on topics including care of creatures and wand making. There will also be a costume contest, featuring prizes for the person who best emulates a “Harry Potter” character and for the person who creates the best original wizarding costume.

At the end of the night, event-goers will parade back to Evanston’s version of Diagon Alley on Sherman Avenue to continue the reading relay outside the Bookends and Beginnings Bookstore and Barnes and Noble. The reading relay continues until the costume contest winners open the boxes of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” set to go on sale at midnight.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is the rehearsal script for a stage play by the same name. It is the eighth official installment in the “Harry Potter” book series. The story takes place 19 years after the events of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Harry Potter is now a Ministry of Magic employee, and his son, Albus Severus Potter, is just beginning his magical education at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Northwestern students have long demonstrated a love for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. They formed an intercollegiate Quidditch team in 2009, and the Northwestern Kneazles are still going strong today. Players hold a broom between their legs while running up and down the field. There are four balls in play at a time and three goals on each side. Since the brooms don’t technically fly, students describe the game as “Quidditch for muggles.”

Event schedule provided by City of Evanston:

The day will start at noon with a reading relay at the Evanston Public Library (EPL), which is located at 1703 Orrington Ave. Come read a paragraph, a page or a chapter as we attempt to get through as much of the series as possible, in several locations, before midnight! Bring your own book or read one of ours. The EPL Children’s Library will also offer two quiet time Potter-inspired activities.

6 p.m.
When the EPL closes at 6 p.m., the action will move to Evanston’s very own Wizarding School: Northwestern University’s Deering Library. A pick-up Quidditch Game will gather on the Deering Meadow at 6 p.m. Bring a friend, bring a Quaffle, and prepare to run/fly fast.

7 p.m.
An Animal Keeper will present a class on the Care and Feeding of Creatures on the Deering Steps. The reading relay will continue in Deering Library, along with Wand Making and Basic Spells.

8:30 to 8:45 p.m.
There will be a costume contest judging with one award for best existing character cosplay and one award for best original character cosplay.

9 p.m.
All visitors are encouraged to parade back to downtown Evanston and Diagon Alley (on Sherman Avenue) just outside of Bookends and Beginnings Bookstore, 1712 Sherman Ave., for the announcement of the Costume Contest winners. First prize winners will get to open one of the sealed boxes at the stroke of midnight at one of the bookstores and receive the first book.

The reading relay will split into two parts with simultaneous readings at Bookends and Beginnings and Barnes and Noble, 1630 Sherman Ave., to see which location can get the furthest by Book Box Opening at midnight.  Bookstores will have continuous activities from 8 p.m. until midnight. All readers are encouraged to preorder their book from their favorite Evanston bookseller prior to the party.