ITHACA, N.Y. — More than 2,400 Ithacans — including myself — have RSVP’d to go to Press Bay Alley on Halloween, when it will be transformed into a version of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley for five fleeting hours.
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I have my Slytherin costume ready, robe and all, and am looking forward to the hot cider and Quidditch inspired electric broomstick relays at the event (I’m a “cunning” Slytherin and will probably cheat during the relay if I get the chance…if pushing little kids out of the way can even be considered cheating, I mean.).
I also look forward to seeing my fellow Harry Potter fanatics dressed in their wizarding finest.
Even though I’m a 28-year-old working at a prestigious news organization, I could never miss this event, which is happening from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 116-118 West Green Street, thanks to the hard work of people at Life’s So Sweet Chocolate and other shops in the alley.
Because who doesn’t remember how they felt the first time they saw or read about Diagon Alley? Who doesn’t remember the childlike feeling of thinking that there could be something magical in the world that could save us from being “perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
The series had been called the defining story of a generation again and again, but not because it takes place in a world where wizards and witches use magic — that becomes almost incidental. Anyone who has read the series knows that the books progress to tell a complex story of the human condition.
Because plot twist: Magic doesn’t save Harry Potter. He is imperfect, makes mistakes and lives with scars from the mistakes of others (Get it? Scar. I’m hilarious.).
But somehow, he and his disciples save a just way of life they’d die to preserve. That kind of literary magic sticks.
I finished reading the last book, “The Deathly Hallows,” while laying in my bathtub, cuddled into a blanket and crying. I’d bought the book at a midnight release party and spent the following hours pacing around my apartment in a manic state, shouting, bursting out in laughter and crying hysterically (I have yet to reread it and not ugly cry during Chapter 23, “Malfroy Manor.”).
While nothing can compare to the satisfied feeling of reading the last word of your favorite story for the first time, it’s nice to go back to visit.
So when I go to the Diagon Alley-themed celebration on Halloween, I’ll get to be a part of that wizarding world again, for a little while, with people who miss it as much as I do or are discovering it for the first time.
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