On Oct. 23, St. Mary’s College of Maryland temporarily transfigured into the prestigious yet fictional institution of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s popular “Harry Potter” series.
Scheduled during the weekend in which “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” was shown in Cole Cinema, Potter Palooza offered a whole slew of activities where students could show their love for their favorite boy wizard. On the agenda was a costume contest, a horcrux scavenger hunt, a Quidditch tournament, and even a Potter-themed feast in the Great Room.
Programs Board special events chair and senior Tricia Byers came up with the idea when a few of her friends who graduated last year “thought doing Harry Potter activities would be a great event on campus.” The other members of Programs Board, who World Carnival chair and senior Anna Danz says, “all love Harry Potter,” contributed ideas and worked with Byers to create the event.
The costume contest was held on the Campus Center patio. Students showed up dressed as characters ranging from the sadistic Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange to the innocent and loyal house-elf Dobby. The winner was junior Tyler Wates, who dressed as Harry’s fugitive godfather Sirius Black. First-year Eden Anbinder explained why she dressed as the oddball Luna Lovegood: “She’s one of my favorite characters, and she’s a Ravenclaw like me. I also have a Gryffindor robe and I considered dressing as Hermione, but I felt like that would have been a betrayal of my Ravenclaw house.”
The Horcrux Scavenger Hunt had teams of students running back and forth to different places on campus, such as the bell tower, the shoe tree, and the Pub, led by a series of rhyming riddles. At each station was a student volunteer who would sign a sheet next to the picture of the horcrux that the team found. Sophomore Caitlin Slife, who participated in the hunt, said, “It was an exciting time to spend with my friends and enjoy a story that has helped to shape our generation.”
All of the teams eventually found their way to the Admissions Field, the last station, where a “Muggle-fied” version of the wizarding game Quidditch was played. In the books and movies, Quidditch is played on flying broomsticks. However, non-magical players must run around the field while holding a broomstick between their legs. The St. Mary’s players lacked real broomsticks, which were replaced with pool noodles and “Swiffer 2000s.”
As the Chasers and Beaters (offense and defense) fought to score a goal by throwing a quaffle (a rubber ball) through one of three hoops at each goal guarded by a Keeper, two members of the cross country team positioned as the Seeker and the Snitch played a seemingly endless game of cat and mouse around campus.
The Seeker’s main mission is to look for and eventually catch the Snitch, which automatically ends the game. First-year Erik Fisher was an accidental Snitch. “One of my cross country team mates said I could substitute,” he said. Obviously, Fisher’s teammate didn’t show up.
The weary Quidditch players regained their strength at the Potter-inspired feast in the Great Room. The “International” section offered foods worthy of the Great Hall at Hogwarts like Shepherd’s pie, pumpkin pasties, and steaming cups of Butterbeer. The Great Room was decked out in the banners of the four Hogwarts houses, adding to the spirit of the event.
Sophomore and Quidditch player Michael Shaughnessy summed up his feelings about Quidditch, and Potter Palooza in general: “It was epic sauce. It should be a weekly tradition.”