ITHACA, N.Y. — During the first ever Wizarding Weekend in Ithaca, Harry Potter fans cleaned out Life’s So Sweet Chocolates of 1,152 bottles of Butterscotch beer, 500 Harry Potter chocolate frogs and at least 500 chocolate owls.

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The Press Bay Alley store Amuse sold out of at least 50 wands and all but a few hand knit children’s Slytherin scarves.

This is literally the last chocolate frog at Life’s So Sweet Chocolates on Halloween.
This is literally the last chocolate frog at Life’s So Sweet Chocolates on Halloween.

At the Press Cafe on the corner of the alley, baristas said they had more customers in an hour than they usually have in an entire day.

After closing the doors of the chocolate shop for the evening, owner and primary organizer Darlynne Overbaugh said, “As far as I’m concerned, mischief managed.”

She posted the Wizarding Weekend event on Facebook about two weeks ago, expecting around 200 people to come to the event. The post went viral, racking up over 8,300 Facebook RSVPs  by Halloween.

A restaurant just off the Commons stopped admitting customers temporarily during the Wizarding Weekend.

In about 10 days, Overbaugh, Press Bay Alley business owners and employees, and volunteers were able to put together an event that drew in thousands. An official number of attendees will be released later this week.

Now, plans are in the works to likely do the event next year, she said.

“When you do something of this high volume, it has a nature of its own,” Overbaugh said.

Amuse owner Kristina Thelen said, “My biggest fear was that something would catch on fire or fall over in a disastrous way.”

She said she knew how hard people worked to make the event happen and wasn’t sure what people’s reception of the efforts would be.

“People immediately were just so happy to be here and that was just so touching in every way,” Thelen said.

“Everybody was so excited to geek out on Harry Potter. That was the universal theme.”

Her most sold item of the day were Hogwarts House themed candles, but her hand knitted scarves — which reflected the colors of each Hogwarts House — nearly sold out. She said Ravenclaw colors were the most requested scarf, followed by Hufflepuff.

(Below, people crowd around Thelen’s table before the event officially kicked off Saturday.)


A video posted by @ithacavoice on

A few doors down at the Press Cafe, barista Brian “Sid” Burke  said all four people who work at the cafe worked Saturday — it’s usually only staffed by one person.

“It was nonstop all day,” he said, but added that businesses were prepared for the crowd. “I knew it was going to be happening.”

Overbaugh, in addition to helping run her own business which had a line to get in around the corner, also volunteered at the wizarding chess site.

“We’ve never experienced a line like that at all — in my eight years of experience,” she said, but everyone from the business owners to the volunteers pitched in to make the magic happen at Wizarding Weekend.  

For instance, one of her employees’ girlfriend volunteered her time for a hour to help at the candy store. Wegmans donated 150 pumpkins for the event. Mimi’s Attic agreed to display their furniture at the event to create the Hogwarts House commons rooms for photo opportunities.

“That’s the spirit of this event,” Overbaugh said. “They wanted to genuinely be a part of this.”

Until next year, #Ithaca. #ithacaiswizards A photo posted by @ithacavoice on

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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.