How much does Amelia Smith love Harry Potter?
What a Muggle thing to ask.
“More than 100 percent!” the 9-year-old from Crystal Lake exclaimed.
Amelia was one of thousands who flocked to the Woodstock Square July 27 for the Wizarding World of Woodstock, a celebration of the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling’s first Potter novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
Businesses temporarily rebranded in honor of the Boy Who Lived. A quidditch team from Loyola University Chicago gave demonstrations of the sport in the Park in the Square. The Opera House was requisitioned as a stand-in for Hogwarts, complete with a Sorting Hat.
And everywhere, wands, broomsticks and Harry Potter’s trademark rims were must-have accessories.
“I mostly want to cast some spells on people,” said Michael Baldwin, 9, of Geneva. He was dressed as Harry, his favorite character.
The event was popular with adults, too. Woodstock’s Judy and Al Degutis attended in Bellatrix Lestrange and Sirius Black costumes. They said they were bigger fans of “Harry Potter” than the children in their family.
“I love the turnout,” Al Degutis said. “We like that all the businesses are participating.”
Organizers estimated as many as 5,000 people attended the Wizarding World of Woodstock, which ran from 4 to 9 p.m. The Woodstock Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Woodstock Public Library and the city of Woodstock hosted the event.
“We printed 3,900 registration slips, and I believe we handed them all out,” Chamber Director Danielle Gulli wrote in an email. “Many people didn’t even check in due to the lines!”
Crowds snaked along the sidewalks, awaiting photo opportunities or the chance to buy some Potter memorabilia or snacks. At Read Between the Lynes, 111 E. Van Buren St., owner Arlene Lynes said her bookstore sold about 350 butterbeer milkshakes and emptied 70 gallons of ice cream.
Gulli said organizers are considering repeating the event.
“I can’t speak for everyone else, but my guess [is] yes, there will be another,” she wrote.
Kyle and Brandie Mai, self-described Harry Potter fanatics from Wonder Lake, brought their four children to the event. They’ve held Harry Potter-themed birthday parties for their kids and said they couldn’t count the number of times they’ve watched all the Harry Potter films. They hope the Wizarding World of Woodstock returns next year.
“It’s awesome,” Kyle Mai said. “I haven’t stopped smiling.”