ITHACA, N.Y. — Thousands of Muggles, witches, wizards, patronuses, giants, dragons and Harry Potter lovers have descended on downtown Ithaca for a “Wizarding Weekend” event that was first thought of about two weeks ago.

The Ithaca Voice has spoken with travelers from as far away as northern Pennsylvania to as close by as Tioga Street who wanted to be part of the transformation of a quiet Ithaca alley into a testament to their Harry Potter fandom.


A photo posted by PressBayAlley (@pressbayalley) on

Their reactions? Of the ones we’ve spoken to, at least: Two wands up.
Here are 7 of the most magical moments we’ve noticed so far:

1) Hogwarts Acceptance Letter (or Howler) from Hagrid

The line for a Hogwarts acceptance letter extended half a block along South Cayuga Street.

Hagrid was at the front of the line, signing the letters and handing out school supplies list to the accepted Hogwards candidates.

“Don’t forget to pick up your school supplies,” he said.

If you ever wanted someone to say, “You’re a wizard,” this was the place to go.

#ithacaiswizards A photo posted by @ithacavoice on

2) Wizard chess

Outside of the Cornell Daily Sun building, dozens watched as human chess players participated in “Wizarding Chess.”

#ithacaiswizards   A photo posted by @ithacavoice on

Live chess #ithacaiswizards A photo posted by PressBayAlley (@pressbayalley) on

3) 'Alecvanders' sells 'Ithaca 2000s'

The broomsticks are flying off the shelves.Alec Mitchell, who works at the downtown Ithaca startup incubator Rev, started "Alecvanders" and incorporated the new business selling quality handmade wooden brooms and wands. (That's of course a pun on Olivanders, the wand-maker in the Harry Potter world.)

He had sold about 40 wands within the first 30 minutes of opening up shop today right outside the Ithaca Commons.

"Every single wand is made of a different wood type," Mitchell said, noting he used eight different types of wood. "We harvested everything ourselves ... all the brooms are made of maple."

4) Quidditch

A broadcaster blared out the movements of the Quaffle, complimenting one chaser and noting a nice play by one of the goalies. Speaking loudly over the microphone, he drew laughs from the crowd as he called out the Quidditch game.

But this wasn't Lee Jordan. Instead, it was color commentary from WICB -- set to the Harry Potter sport adopted by Ithaca with the electric bicycles of Boxy Bikes.

What they were seeing was the inaugural game of a new sport: Quidditch, Ithaca-style.

We'll update this with photos from the 3 p.m. game soon. Check out the live broadcast here.

5) The dueling ground

Tompkins Legislator Mike Sigler often finds himself in the middle of disputes over the county government.

On Saturday, he oversaw a different kind of duel: Between young wizards, who stood about 20 feet from each other and shouted spells. Sigler would then decide the winner by who spoke first.

Here's a video of Sigler officiating:

Tompkins County legislator Mike Sigler officiating wand dueling #ithacaiswizards A video posted by @ithacavoice on

6) Families come from afar

When George Maciuska heard about a Harry Potter event in Ithaca earlier this week from his daughter, he went immediately to The Salvation Army.

The result:

#ithacaiswizards A photo posted by @ithacavoice on

Maciuska said he came from an hour and a half away and was not disappointed.

"They did a really, really nice job," he said.

Other travelers from far flung regions of the wizarding kingdom agreed.

"With the short limited time they had, this is really, really incredible," a woman from Oneida said about the organizers.

"I don't feel out of place in my robe, so that's always a plus," said a woman from Athens, P.A., who traveled to Ithaca with her friends for the event.

"It's nice to see the diversity of Harry Potter fans and how it has affected all of us," said another woman from Binghamton, who traveled to Ithaca with her friend.

7) The shopkeepers on "Diagon Alley"

A few years ago, the space behind The Ithaca Journal was an empty parking lot. Then it became a small strip for a few local merchants.

On Saturday, it more closely resembled a theme park -- with lines of hundreds snaking out into what had so recently been an empty strip of concrete.

The line for Life's So Sweet chocolates, for instance, spilled out around Green Street at least 100 feet outside the store.

But the store's owner Darlynne Overbaugh, perhaps the biggest reason the event happened at all, was focused on the overall event. She stood volunteering a couple of blocks away, overseeing at a game of wizarding chess.

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.