ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca entrepreneur will be introducing a new sport, inspired by Harry Potter’s Quidditch, to the public this Halloween.
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Unlike previous forms of “Muggle Quidditch,” this one will be played on electric bicycles as part of Wizard Fest — when Press Bay Alley will be transformed into a Diagon Alley themed wizard celebration.
Organizers originally intended to attract 100 to 200 people to the the event. As of Monday evening, nearly 6,000 people have RSVP’d on Facebook to go to Press Bay Alley on Halloween.
Laurence Clarkberg, owner of the electric bike maker Boxy Bikes at 118 W Green St., said the idea to have Quidditch-inspired matches on the bikes originated from an electric bike jousting event he organized during Streets Alive in the spring.
During that event, people on electric cargo bikes — which seat a driver and passenger — shot NERF gun rounds at each other, he said.
“People really got into it,” he said. “This is an evolution of that idea.”
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Clarkberg said the Hogwarts houses represented will perform rehearsed matches that are scripted based upon the games played in the movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” (Spoiler: Gryffindor wins but only because Harry Potter falls off his broom and swallows the Snitch — not because Gryffindor is the best house.)
While broomstick relays were originally on the schedule, the thousands of people expected to attend the event forced the organizers to scratch public relays because of safety concerns.
“It’ll be funny, but it won’t actually be dangerous,” Clarkberg said about the matches.
But he said electric bikes will be available for people to test drive — broom attached — at the event.
While the original version of muggle (that’s non-magical) Quidditch involves a lot of running and features a human snitch, the one that will be played in the parking lot behind Press Bay Alley will feature the following:
— Seven person teams that represent three of the four Hogwarts houses — Slytherin, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff.
— Chaser throwers will be sitting on the back of electric cargo bikes being steered by chaser drivers. The Chasers will toss the balls into miniature soccer goal nets.
— Bludger handlers (on foot) who will be throwing balls at the opposing team’s chasers.
— A seeker/snitch handler on foot will guard the goals during “quaffle play” and carry the snitch on a fishing pole throughout the pitch in a separate round of “snitch play” (Goal scoring and snitch chasing will happen in two different rounds as opposed to happening at the same time.)
Teams from Ithaca High School, New Roots Charter School and Lehman Alternative Community School will be participating in the event.
His 15-year-old daughter, Thea Clarkberg, is helping organize the team from IHS, which will represent Slytherin.
The first match is happening on at 1 p.m. and the second is at 3 p.m. in the parking lot behind Press Bay Alley.
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