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Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! Library celebrates book series with community party

August 2, 2019
Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff , Shepherdstown Chronicle

SHEPHERDSTOWN -- On Saturday morning, boys, girls and even some parents could be seen decked out in billowing black robes and witches hats, meeting up on the second floor of the War Memorial Building to celebrate their mutual love for the Harry Potter book series.

The celebration, which was the final event for the Hogwarts at the Library Book Club, welcomed over a hundred visitors of all ages to play Harry Potter-themed games, munch on Harry Potter-themed snacks and listen to a "Fantastic Beasts" demonstration by Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Manager of Education Jennifer Burghoffer.

"This isn't the first Harry Potter event I've done. In fact, I'm doing a Harry Potter Day at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum tomorrow," Burghoffer said, mentioning she brought a possum, a turtle and a screech owl to the event. "I read the books when I was young, and now the younger generation's picking them back up. When we do events like this, we bring animals and talk about caring for the magical creatures of Virginia. I try to help kids connect our animals with the fantastic beasts in the books."

Article Photos

Shepherdstown Elementary School first grader Rye Morgens colors the picture of a Hungarian Horntail dragon, during the library celebration in the War Memorial Building on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

According to Shepherdstown Public Library Children's Librarian Tara Carlisle, this event was her final one with the library, as she is now working as a children's librarian in Frederick County. Seeing this final event's success brought tears to her eyes, as she reminisced about her time in Shepherdstown.

"I love Shepherdstown," Carlisle said, as she watched her husband and daughters run the games and refreshment tables. "I think the community here is so awesome. I'll miss so many people."

When Carlisle started the Hogwarts at the Library Book Club in the spring, her intent was for children within a specific age range to come discuss each of the seven books at club meetings and participate in a relevant craft. But she soon realized, from an outpouring of public interest, that community members of all ages were interested in joining the group. Holding a community party celebrating the seventh book in the series was Carlisle's solution to making all local Harry Potter lovers feel included.

"I expected it to be big," Carlisle said about the party, which included a Horcrux Scavenger Hunt, Sorting Hat Quiz and a Help Free Dobby Sock Toss. "Harry Potter's birthday is coming up, too, on July 31, so this was a way to celebrate that and let everyone come. I think Harry Potter brings people in, along with the animals from Blue Ridge Wildlife Center bringing people in."

For Driswood Elementary School fifth grader Mia Donlon, attending the event not only gave her an opportunity to talk in-depth about the series, but to also make a new friend with similar interests, Martinsburg South Middle School sixth grader Adam Azizi.

"I just took note of him, because he knew a lot of interesting facts and I value knowledge," Donlon said, wearing a robe and Ravenclaw tie. "I really like this party. If most of me is being honest, I liked the snacks the best. And the animals. And the Sorting Hat Quiz. I'm a really big Harry Potter fan."



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