For a magical Halloween afternoon, a small city in upstate New York is transforming a street into a real-life Diagon Alley.
What started as a small idea to give kids a Harry Potter-esque trick or treating experience has literally snowballed into a huge event - something that organizers had no idea would happen.
It's magic, after all.
Ithaca, New York's 'Press Bay Alley,' a small side street with a collection of tiny shops (described on their Facebook page as a "unique micro-retailing environment"), will get the Potter makeover on Halloween for what they're calling Wizarding Weekend.
Attendees shouldn't expect a full-scale decorated recreation of the famed alley, but business owners and volunteers will be dressed in costume and there's a bunch of Harry Potter-themed events going on during the day to add to the fun.
As Darlynne Overbaugh, owner of Life's So Sweet Chocolates that resides in Press Bay Alley, explains on the event's Facebook page: "We are NOT Universal Studios but we have something better - the enthusiasm and spirit of all of you!"
Darlynne told The Ithaca Voice that the response was unexpected, explaining: "When we started this idea we thought, 'Ah, maybe 200 people (will attend). Then we discovered that it had a much broader reach than that."
To accommodate the explosion of people potentially attending the event (5,700 RSVPs and growing), the owner of the space, John Guttridge, explained on Facebook that the festivities will spread to areas beyond Press Bay Alley.
Food trucks and events like quidditch and wizarding duels will be located nearby to remove some of the crowd from the main alley, which he explains, "can accommodate a maximum of about 1,000 people at a time." With the combined space of nearby parking lots, he expects there's "room for another approximately 6,000."
Attendees should keep their expectations realistic: this is the first time the city is putting on this event, the RSVPs have far exceeded what was predicted, and this is not a complete replica of Diagon Alley. It will definitely be a fun event full of Harry Potter fans and families taking part in a great lineup of activities.
If you're in town for the event, be sure to check out the retailers and restaurants beyond Diagon Alley and on the Ithaca Commons shopping area. As an Ithaca resident, I'm looking forward to seeing the Wizarding Weekend event in full swing!