Aurora magic fest conjures up wizarding fun
There's a certain world-renowned wizard who probably had a hand -- or a wand -- in starting what organizers hope will be an annual tradition in Aurora: the Downtown Aurora Magic Festival.
The festival's second incarnation will materialize Saturday, June 9, in the city's Water Street Mall. But unlike last year's debut festival, it will no longer carry the name of the well-known doer of magic conjured up by author J.K. Rowling.
"Warner Bros. cracked down on all the festivals this year," said organizer Kate Purl, who is leading festival preparations in cooperation with Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit organization that promotes business development within a special taxing district.
The company issued guidelines last year, she said, and under more stringent rules this year, the wizard-in-question's name may not be used.
Last year's magic festival was a runaway success, Purl said.
"We planned it for 1,500" attendees, she said. "We ended up with about 5,000."
The event will include a costume contest, a scavenger hunt, a live owl show, vendors selling themed goods and classes aimed at teaching fledgling wizards and witches how to "concoct potions, perform alchemy and tend to the growth of magical plants," Purl said.
Downtown businesses will participate with their own magic-themed events all weekend, she said.
There is one nod to the wizard with the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.
"Warner Bros. gave us permission to do one Harry Potter thing," Purl said.
And so the event will present a Quidditch match in a city parking lot.
"It's like soccer on broomsticks," she said. "Last year we designed broomsticks made out of foam so when you whack into each other it doesn't hurt."
All of the events will take place within a three-square-block area in Aurora's downtown.
The Downtown Aurora Magic Festival raises money for five nonprofit groups: Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter; the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry; the Simply Destinee suicide prevention group; the Aurora Children's Dental Service, which provides free dental care; and Rover Rescue, an animal rescue group.
Both children and adults enthusiastically embrace the event, Purl said.
"We attract two groups: families with kids ages 8 to 12 and people ages 25 to 40. We're trying to offer stuff that will appeal to visitors of all ages."
If you goWhat: Downtown Aurora Magic Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 9
Where: Water Street Mall, 13 Water St., Aurora
Admission: $15 per person for ages 5 and older; proceeds support five Aurora-area nonprofit groups