‘Potter’ fans waited for the witching hour

Meranda Watling

Jared Hudak, 3, of Cuyahoga Falls trys his hand at casting spells at the Winking Lizard during the Harry Potter Fest.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Spin… spin… spin… three times around.


Shake… shake… shake… take a stone.


“You got Harry’s house. Isn’t that exciting?”

The little boy, dressed as Harry Potter in a black robe a foot too long for him and round glasses sitting below the orange lightning bolt scar scribbled on his forehead, glared at the three women around him as they took the worn brown hat off his head.

The boy had just been sorted: in a special ceremony that, in the world of Harry Potter, tells students which house they belong in.

Sorting ceremonies were only part of the magic Friday and Saturday as the village of Peninsula transformed itself into a scene straight from J.K. Rowling’s books.

Up and down Main Street, shops transformed into places Harry Potter visits in the stories. From Flourish and Blotts (The Blue Heron Bookstore, which sponsored the event) to Honeydukes Sweet Shop (Yellow Creek Trading Company) and The Leaky Cauldron (The Winking Lizard), with a little imagination fans could taste, see and feel the world of Harry Potter.

Hoards of Harry Potter fans descended on the town in anticipation of the release of the sixth, and second to last, book in the popular series at midnight Friday night.

Throughout the town, children, parents and teens alike joined in the fun by sporting costumes of their favorite characters. From Draco Malfoy, Harry’s enemy at Hogwarts, to Gilderoy Lockhart, Harry’s former teacher, to Professor Dumbledore, Harry’s mentor and friend, the costumed adults were as creative as the kids were cute.

In every direction, little kids dressed up as Harry Potter could be found sporting robes, wands and lightening bolt scars.

Kent State graduate Roberta Suhoza’s children were no exception. In costumes Suhoza made for Halloween a few years ago, Nick, 8, was dressed as Harry Potter, and Kayla, 6, was dressed as Hermione, one of Harry’s best friends.

“I know how much (Nick) loves Harry Potter, and (Kayla) just loves dressing up as Hermione for Halloween,” Suhoza said. “It gives them something fun to do. And they’ll have something to talk about.”

Aside from getting sorted, the kids were able to enjoy ice cream at Florean Fortesues’s Ice Cream Parlor, and tour the “Forbidden Forest,” where they saw fairies (fireflies) and were treated to the sights and sounds of the Cuyahoga Valley at night.

“It was a blast!” Kayla said of her Forbidden Forest tour. “I’ve never done anything like it before.”

It wasn’t just kids and their parents enjoying the fun; college-age fans were in the crowd too.

“Walking down here, it’s all kids,” said Angela Cox, 17, who will be attending Wittenberg University this fall. “We wanted to be sorted. They were like, ‘Are you waiting to be sorted?’ and we were like, ‘Oh yeah!’”

Her friends Allison Macke, 18, a student at Miami University, and Laken Waren, 17, who will also attend Wittenberg, weren’t just along for the ride.

“They’re written for younger kids, but the things they go through, we went through — except the whole wizard thing of course,” Waren said. “It’s written very basic, but it’s not.”

The friends were excited for the new book to come out, which is why they decided to come to Peninsula and “get in the spirit.”

They weren’t alone. As the clock approached midnight, the atmosphere in the little town was excited.

At 12:01 a.m., the books were handed out, but unlike for Cinderella, the magic didn’t end. It was just beginning.

Contact managing editor Meranda Watling at [email protected].