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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
For the generation of kids who grew up on “Harry Potter,” a chance to visit Hogwarts, the school of magic that serves as the series’ primary setting, has always been a dream. For some, that dream came true in the last decade when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Florida. For New Englanders, though, that still means a two-and-a-half hour flight.
For Westwood residents, however, there’s another option.
Once a year, the Westwood Library transforms itself into a “Harry Potter” paradise. For the last five years the Westwood Library has hosted Harry Potter Book Night. This year’s theme was based around the fourth book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” and its Triwizard Tournament.
The TriWizard Tournament is a competition that brings together three different schools with a single student to represent each one. There is, of course, a plot twist in the book when one more student is picked to represent Hogwarts and compete in the terrifying competition.
Westwood’s Triwizard Tournament was a much less scary version than the one in the book - a muggle version to be precise - but it transformed the entirety of the library’s children’s room. Kids came in through Platform 9 3/4 and were instantly greeted by a plethora of their favorite “Harry Potter” characters, including Fleur Delacour, Snape, Dobby, and Harry Potter himself. Kids and parents came dressed up as some of their favorite characters, filling the room with the most immersive “Harry Potter” experience in which any of them had ever participated.
As soon as they were in, kids rushed to complete one - or all - of the many activities on their lists. Some kids ushered themselves into the Triwizard maze (previously the nonfiction book shelves) and made it out alive after facing Voldemort, while others went to get themselves sorted by scratching off a piece of paper like a lucky lottery ticket. Other kids dashed around as they participated in a scavenger hunt to find some iconic characters. As they finished, children raced back to the starting table. “I think a lollipop is due,” said one girl handing over her list.
“She reminds me a lot of Hermione,” chuckled a watching parent. This is a compliment amongst Potter fans.
During the second half of the night, children were invited to participate in activities that mimicked tasks of the actual Triwizard tournament. Members of each house were asked to search through a bucket to hunt down important items, like gillyweed and a dragon. The trivia contest, which replaced the deadly maze task, stumped even some of the biggest Potter fans.
The night was clearly not just for young kids, but parents as well. For them, the night was about sharing this amazing story with their kids. “My favorite part of this is seeing the excitement of the kids who just started reading it, and now they get to share in this community of ‘Harry Potter’ fans,” said Head of Children’s Services Lizzie McGovern. “It’s cool because many parents grew up with ‘Harry Potter,’ so now they are introducing their kids.”
As the night ended, one thing was certain: the Westwood Library knows how to throw a party and Harry Potter Book Night will be a treasured night for years to come. Party-goers are already waiting to hear about next year’s theme.