Many characters from the Harry potter world are represented in the Pitman Potter Festival costume contest. -Photo courtesy of Joan Stoltzfus

Witches and Wizards flooded the streets of Pitman with their magic wands and black cloaks for the Pitman Potter Festival over the weekend. Store windows throughout the town were filled with decorations, ranging from owls and floating letters to wooden panels that stated the store was closed due to dragon damages.

This Harry Potter-themed festival was the first of its kind in Pitman. People came dressed in all different types of magical attire, from Hogwarts t-shirts to elaborate costumes. The whole town was involved in the festivities.

I think it’s great because a lot of people don’t know this street exists,” said Shea Murray, owner of Pitman jewelry store Crescent & Crow. 

People poured in and out of his store with a scavenger hunt card they gave him to hole punch. The card led players from one end of the town to the other in search of the seven Horcruxes from the Harry Potter films.

“It’s great that they have this all spread out so people see parts of the town that they wouldn’t normally see,” Murray added.

He also noted increased customer activity since the festival had been announced. Crescent & Crow put out a limited edition Harry Potter lightning bolt necklace this past August to get people excited and ready for the transformation of the sleepy suburban town into a magical realm of witchcraft and wizardry.

Players following along the Horcrux trail were led through a small neighborhood behind Uptown Pitman. The path led to a sidewalk and bunches of small houses. Most houses were ready for Halloween with decorations like hanging skeletons and carved pumpkins.

Behind the houses were wide open fields where the younger children were able to play human chess and practice Quidditch, a fictional broom-flying sport from the Harry Potter world. They played with volunteers dressed as Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. They also had a “Tri-Wizard Maze” complete with a hidden goblet, and regular chess for the older Potter fans.

Along with the physical activities, children were able to sit down with volunteers dressed as characters from the movie to play a few games. Some of these characters included Dolores Umbridge and Sybill Trelawney. A sorting hat ceremony was also held to place participants in their favorite houses.

“The kids are having so much fun and can’t wait to get sorted,” said Kimberley Whitham, a mother of two from Haddon Heights. “The kids made their own wands and now we are just waiting to go to the sorting ceremony.”

Her two kids met their favorite characters, competed in Quidditch, played chess and were sorted into the Gryffindor House.

After some fun and exercise, festival-goers could grab a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks. Some of the food trucks included “Paella on the Porch,” “Beast on the Street” and “Mannino’s Cannoli Express.”

If festival-goers decided they wanted to eat indoors, Uptown Pitman restaurants provided plenty of Harry Potter specials to entice them.

One such restaurant, Sweet Lula’s, had menus outside of their building with a special meal for every house in the Harry Potter films. The building was very dark upon entering, but when the door shut, all of the lights were dimmed with candles on the tables. On the back wall of the restaurant, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was projected. All of the waitresses were in Hogwarts uniforms and the hostess passed out a Harry Potter trivia test while speaking to the guests in a British accent.

The food was not the only thing geared specifically toward the theme of the festival. Vendors came from all over to sell their custom-made merchandise. Artist project included canvas paintings of the cast of Harry Potter and wine glasses with Harry Potter quotes. There were also many stands selling items like soaps, which were labeled as potions, and succulent plants, labeled as dangerous plants from the movie. Multiple tents sold a wide variety of wands.

“I’ve been making these wands since the beginning of the year,” 12-year-old Jacob Schaffer said. His tent was filled with people waiting to buy his hand-made wizard wands. He walked around in his black cloak with his handmade staff explaining everything about his wands to his customers.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he continued. “I didn’t know these many people would be flooding into my place.”

Schaffer traveled to Pitman from Carney’s Point with his grandmother to sell the wands he worked on all year. He travels to events all over the region in order to show off his skills.

The last stop on the Horcrux list was the Pitman County Library, where young kids were able to try their hand at writing words in the Harry Potter lightning bolt font. Behind the library was a stage where a children’s chorus sang Halloween songs. The costume contest and Harry Potter Trivia also took place there.

Junior English and secondary education major Kaitlin Kortonick volunteered at the event as a character actor, portraying Newt Scamander.

“I think watching the kids play wizard chess and duel with Voldemort was my favorite part,” Kortonick said. “It was also really cool to see complete strangers talking and laughing over their love of Harry Potter. It was like everyone got to live in the wizarding world for a day.”

Kortonick also appreciated the “friendly, geeky atmosphere” of the event.

“Even parents were dressed in costumes,” she added.

The festival had a steady flow of visitors throughout the day, all of whom were provided with an immersive, magical experience in what will hopefully become a yearly Pitman tradition.

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