Harry Potter Casts a Spell on Chesnut Hill

By: Megha Bharadwaj

Visitors dressed like Professors McGonnagal and Dumbledor


The streets bustle with visitors
Children enjoy “Defense Against the Dark Arts”

For the weekend, this charming town was transformed into the world of Harry Potter, calling all fans to come and enjoy the plethora of magical activities. The streets of Chestnut Hill bustled with  people of all ages creating a beautiful family friendly atmosphere.

A store front renamed, “The Philosopher’s Stone”

Activities were scattered throughout the town such as movie screenings, sorting hat demonstrations, magical spell classes, and even scavenger hunts to find the horcruxes. Local shops were also involved in displaying Harry Potter related items in their window fronts and were “renamed” with a witchy twist.

Aragog the spider rests on top of McLaughlin’s


I went to enjoy Saturday’s festivities with my two friends Cecily Mohrfeld (’17) and Megan Quimby (’17). Being passionate Harry Potter enthusiasts we decided to bring our wands to the party, and it was a good thing we did, as the crowds were all dressed up in incredible costumes. Some fans went to incredible lengths to hand make costumes of their favorite Hogwarts Professors or even villains.

Visitors dressed like Professors McGonnagal and Dumbledor
Visitors dressed like Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore

Cecily Mohrfeld reminisced, “I loved seeing all the Hogwarts Pride! It was really great to spend a day with people who love Harry Potter as much as me”.

Megan Quimby also chimed in, “I also loved having an excuse to use my wand! It actually has a practical purpose!”.

The Knight Bus
The Knight Bus

We were greeted by the sight of the beautiful Knight Bus, transporting people throughout town all day long. Also available for fans riding into town was the “Hogwarts Express”, actually SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West regional rail line, traveling from Jefferson Station to Chestnut Hill with Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Dumbledore look alikes onboard. Once we arrived in Germantown Avenue, we started to notice that decrees from the “Ministry of Magic” were posted all around town. These posters pulled out lines straight from the book, adding a wonderful quirk to the day.

Ministry of Magic Decrees
Ministry of Magic Decrees
Ministry of Magic Decrees
Ministry of Magic Decrees

Germantown Avenue was transformed into Hogsmeade, the town Hogwarts’ students visit on fields trips for a day of food and laughs. The cafes and bars located on this street were serving the infamous Butter Beer, a creamy butterscotch soda, along with other wizard drinks such as Witch’s Brew, a cherry flavored refreshment.

Something quite incredible at this event, was the amount of free vendors available to the public. We were thrilled when we discovered a slow motion video booth where we got adorned in capes and pretended to fight off the deadly dementor with our wands! There were also photo booths, fortune tellers, face painters whipping out the iconic Harry Potter scar, and even booths to create your own wands!

From left to right, Megha Bharadwaj ('17), Megan Quimby ('17), and Cecily Mohrfeld ('17) enjoy the slow motion video booth
From left to right, Megha Bharadwaj (’17), Megan Quimby (’17), and Cecily Mohrfeld (’17) enjoy the slow motion video booth

There was also an incredible amount of Harry Potter merchandise being sold from scarves, to t-shirts, to jewelry. Many of these items were hand-made or designed personally by the vendor.  We snagged some shirts to commemorate the day!

As we passed through a park representing Hodric’s Hollow, home of Harry Potter’s parents, we noticed owls and dementors strategically placed for pictures. This park had been transformed into a selfie central fit for a wizard. Simultaneously, a book reading of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was taking place in the center of the park attracting quite a crowd!

Dementors to take “selfies” with

After exploring the transformed town some more and grabbing a bite to eat with of course some warm butter beer for the chilly fall day we headed home.

Waiting in line for butter beer
Waiting in line at a cafe for butter beer

On the way back Megan Quimby remarked, “It was so amazing seeing the affect one person’s idea (J. K. Rowling), can have on the world. The fact that this whole town was made into a Harry Potter themed world and attracted so many enthusiasts of the novels is quite a crazy idea to wrap my head around”.

Another event, that we unfortunately did not get to visit, was the 6th Annual Philadelphia Brotherly Love Quidditch Tournament. This magical sporting event was also free and held on the fields of Chestnut Hill College available for the public to both watch or participate in a 5K “Firebolt” run or a Nimbus Walk, both named after wizarding brooms.

After coming home from this wonderful event I polled several Lenape Students on if they would go to a Harry Potter event like this and they all said yes! If you are one of these individuals, obsessed with all things Harry Potter, make sure to check this bewitching day out next fall!

Streets of Chestnut Hill decorated with Hogwarts banners

Children play "Wizard's Chess"