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updated: 7/27/2017 8:49 AM

'Harry Potter world' to come alive again in downtown Naperville

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  • Visitors will be dressed as witches and wizards for a Harry Potter costume contest as part of The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named on Saturday in downtown Naperville.

    Visitors will be dressed as witches and wizards for a Harry Potter costume contest as part of The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named on Saturday in downtown Naperville.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Harry Potter fans young and old can enjoy free activities or deals at 45 businesses in downtown Naperville on Saturday during The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named.

      Harry Potter fans young and old can enjoy free activities or deals at 45 businesses in downtown Naperville on Saturday during The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer/2005

 
 

The shops and streets of downtown Naperville transformed so well into the magical world of Harry Potter last year that they're doing it again this weekend during The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named.

From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Potter fans can experience wandmaking, spells classes, sorting hats, fortune telling, discussion groups, crafts, painting classes, live human chess matches, temporary tattoos, trolley rides, theatrical performances of "Harry Potter" scenes -- even Harry Potter-themed yoga for kiddos -- and trivia, writing and costume contests for all ages.

The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named concludes with a free 8 p.m. screening of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in Central Park at 104 E. Benton Ave.

No tickets are required for the festivities, which center around a check-in table at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street. The check-in is a good place to start, organizers say, because it will offer an eight-page brochure of participating businesses and activities, as well as free butterbeer mugs and glow necklaces -- at least for early birds who arrive while supplies last.

After the check-in, The Return of The Party That Shall Not Be Named becomes like a "choose your own adventure" book.

Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, says the options are so vast and the interest in Harry Potter so broad -- even 20 years after the first book in the series of fantasy novels was published -- that the thousands who are expected to attend can all have unique experiences.

"The appeal is there for both young and old," Wood said.

Forty-five businesses on Chicago, Jackson and Jefferson avenues as well as Main, Washington, Water and Webster streets, will be participating with Potter-related giveaways or deals. And none will look quite like their usual selves. Bright yellow signs will rename each shop or restaurant into its Potter-world equivalent.

For example, Florean Fortesque's Ice Cream Parlour, typically known as Cookie Dough Creations, will serve butterbeer floats, a throwback to a sweet treat sold during previous Potter celebrations to mark book launches in 2005, 2007 and 2016.

There are also activities planned at Hairy Potter Salon (typically Amber Waves, The Art of Hair), The Quidditch Field (Erehwon Mountain Outfitters), Magical Menagerie (Two Bostons Pet Boutique), Flourish and Blotts (Anderson's Bookshop) and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (Nichols Library) -- all to cater to readers who love the fantasy of the Potter world.

"It seems like the fandom and the love of these characters and stories has not died," Becky Anderson, owner of Anderson's Bookshop, said. "It just goes on and on."

The library was such a hub of activity during last year's celebration it drew 9,500 people -- 8,500 of whom participated in at least one activity, said Anne Bultman, adult and teen services supervisor.

This year, library staffers are going all out again, offering a scavenger hunt, an escape room, button-making, a dueling club and outdoor, life-size chess. Maps available inside the library explain where events are taking place, in Hogwarts-named spaces such as Hagrid's Hut, the Great Hall and Platform 9¾.

"It's so wonderful that all of downtown is going to turn into Harry Potter world," Bultman said. "It's just going to be a really fun day for people who like Harry Potter."

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