Dustin Anderson, 19, of Inverness began his journey toward becoming a Triwizard champion when he opened his door to two teenage girls dressed as owls.
"I was just kind of chilling out at my house watching TV and the doorbell rang. And, I answered the door and there were a couple of owls there," Anderson said.
His parents and sister Breanna "probably thought it was kind of weird," he said.
Tied to one of the owl's legs was an envelope containing Anderson's invitation to Potterpalooza, his group of friends' three-day celebration leading up to the premier of the final installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise.
"That was funny," said Justin's mother, Kathy Anderson. "They came in and flew out quickly."
"When you're trying to hand out an invitation to a Harry Potter event, is there any other way?" said Iulia Gheorghiu, 19, of Palatine. She was one of the owls and Megan Kennedy, 18, of Palatine, was the other.
"A lot of times parents were opening the door and they just saw crazy kids in feathers pushing their way through," Gheorghiu said.
And while the group of 22 June graduates of Fremd High School has a great love for all things Harry Potter, they admit that this meticulously planned event is also the end of an era in their friendship.
"We're all going to far away colleges and this is kind of our last hurrah," said Jeff Freund, 18, of Palatine.
The event started Tuesday when activities included playing Quidditch and watching the first movie. Two members of Fremd's cross country team, Andy Mack and Matt Smaga, acted as snitches.
"Quidditch is tiring stuff. They don't tell you that in the books," Gheorghiu said.
The Triwizard champions were also chosen Tuesday night. Anderson is representing Hogwartz School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the book and movie, Cedric Diggory, the Hogwartz champion, dies, but Anderson said he isn't worried.
"Eternal glory is at stake here. How often do you get a chance at eternal glory?" Anderson said.
For the first challenge, the four champions had to avoid two dragons (dogs), chasing them to get the bacon in their pockets, and find their golden eggs. Inside each egg was a clue written in Romanian. Anderson used Google Translate to complete the challenge.
For their second challenge, they had to find an assigned object at the bottom of the Anderson family's swimming pool. All the contestants had to eat Gillyweed, a peanut butter/gummy worm combo, before they could start searching.
Other participants acted as mermaids, stabbing the contestants with white plastic forks to make the task harder.
For their final task, the contestants will compete in the dark to find the Triwizard Cup. Events will culminate in Thursday's midnight movie showing.
All the participants are dressing up as different characters, with costumes ranging from Dobby the house elf, to Lucious Malfoy, to Moaning Myrtle. And they will have scouts out at the AMC South Barrington so the group gets there in time to sit together in a premium location.
"I honestly can't put into words how fantastic it is, with how much work went into this," said Asha Bazil, 17, of Palatine, one of the competing champions.