Wizardly Weekend returns to Kent for a magical festival

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Colleen Burns

Runners take off as they start the “Run that Shall not be Named” 5k.

Colleen Burns, Reporter

 the “Run that Shall not be Named”As if by magic, the city of Kent transformed into a Harry Potter fan’s paradise for their annual Wizardly Weekend July 22 and 23. The festival was created in 2016 by Kent Main Street to celebrate the release of the newest book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and continued by popular demand.

The first event to kick off the festivities was a 5K run around the esplanade on campus. There were over 200 participants in the “Run that Shall not be Named” and Kent Main Street encouraged runners to dress in costume. Ed Butch, a volunteer for Kent Main Street, said he was happy to see the number of participants continue to rise since the pandemic.

“It really shows Main Street’s mission which is bringing people to the businesses downtown and get our name out there,” Butch said.

The festival involved businesses all around Kent as well as the Northeast Ohio

The 6th annual “Run that Shall not be Named” is a non competitive run along the esplanade on campus. Over 275 runners registered to participate. (Colleen Burns)

area, giving them an opportunity to connect with customers through a shared interest.

Catherine Ben, owner of Carina Dolci Apothecary, said she felt very inspired by the theme and created over 30 new scents for her products for the festival.

“We started out in 2018 here, and someone had their own booth and asked me to make a few Harry Potter themed scents” Ben said. “After I stopped making them, people were really upset so I just started making them year round.”

The streets were filled with fans, including Guilia Cerasi and Enrico Ganeolfi who passed on the love of the series to their daughter.

“We read all the books and watched all the movies with her,” Cerasi said.

The festival had several activities for kids to experience Harry Potter magic,

Kent Junior Mothers held a wand making station for children to decorate their own wand with colored beads. The money raised from the stand goes toward the group’s continued mission of teaching safety courses for children. (Colleen Burns)

including building their own wand with the organization Kent Junior Mothers, a minigolf course — and the opportunity to try quidditch, hosted by Kent State University’s quidditch team.

Ty Kohler, president of the quidditch team and senior journalism major, was excited to give people hands-on experience with the sport while raising money for the team.

“We’ve been playing as an unofficial team for four or five years now,” Kohler said. “We finally want to become recognized so we can go compete in real tournaments and on the national circuit.”

The festival concluded with a children and adult costume contest, hosted by the Swish and Flick Podcast who also held a live podcast in a book club style, where they speak about each chapter of each book.

“We hit probably around 50 people” said Tiffany O’Malley, one of the podcasters from Swish and Flick. “I loved the Bellatrix costume from the kids contest. Dumbledore is always good.”

Participants in the 5k run followed the Harry Potter theme, decorating strollers and wearing costumes. (Colleen Burns)

The tradition of Wizardly Weekend is likely to continue annually due to the overall passion for the series. Keleigh Veraldo-Zucchero, Kent community member, shared her love for all things Harry Potter with her children and has attended the festival since 2016.

“I read all the books. Whenever a new one would come out, I would reread all the other ones up to that point,” Veraldo-Zucchero said. “If there were only five people, I would still be here.”

Despite the original series of Harry Potter books ending over a decade ago, it is evident that the weekend was a great opportunity for fans and local businesses to connect with each other.

Editor’s note: Ty Kohler is a KentWired Staff member, but he was interviewed due to his relevance to the story.

Colleen Burns is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]