Witches and Wizards Ottawa-Bound for Harry Potter Convention

By Vito Pilieci [from the Ottawa Citizen]

Live long and drink lots of pumpkin juice.

An Internet group of Harry Potter fanatics will hold Canada’s first Potter convention for witches, wizards and literary fans around the world in Ottawa this summer.

The group hopes the event will eventually become as popular as conventions held by Star Trekkies, who annually hold gatherings to celebrate and discuss the adventures of the Starship Enterprise, attracting thousands of fans.

Certainly, the possibility exists. But, I don’t see that happening for a long time, said Sheryll Townsend, chairwoman of the Convention Alley Harry Potter conference.

Right now, it is really hot. When the books are finished, whether the fan base stays there will determine how well this goes, five or 10 years down the line. But certainly, right now I see it growing and growing.

Harry Potter’s popularity goes far beyond children who love stories about magic. Academics all over the world are analysing the writings of author J.K. Rowling, looking for links to ancient mythology, comparisons between real life and the world that Harry Potter lives in, and historical influences that may have helped shape the tales of the pint sized wizard.

This summers convention, which is to take place at the University of Ottawa from July 30 to Aug. 1, will see about 500 Harry Potter fans descend on the city to take in a haunted walk, view a special screening of the upcoming Prisoner of Azkaban, celebrate Harry’s birthday and, of course, discuss J.K. Rowling’s creation.

Key speakers at the event will include Steve Vander Ark, creator of the Harry Potter Lexicon website which acts as a dictionary for many of the terms used in Ms. Rowling’s novels and Judith Robertson, an associate professor with the University of Ottawa who is a specialist in children’s literature.

Sorry, none of the characters in the popular Harry Potter films will be attending the three-day conference.

The event is not being endorsed by Warner Brothers, the production company behind the Harry Potter movies or J.K. Rowling’s publishing company.

We are working under guidelines supplied by Warner Brothers, but right now they’re not willing to say that this is an official event, Ms. Townsend said.

The conference fee is $200 before April 30 and $250 after. The event is being put on by two Internet-based discussion forums, Convention Alley and Harry Potter for Grown Ups. Other Potter conference events are slowly popping up all over the world. Last year, 600 Harry Potter fans met at Walt Disney World Florida for Nimbus 2003. A similar event is being scheduled for Salem, Massachusetts, between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11, 2005.

Follow the signs to Convention Alley:

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David Haber
David Haber

D.S. Haber (known to his friends as Dave) is a professional muggle computer programmer and web designer and lives in Los Angeles. He is proud of the fact that he is a new-blood wizard with no (apparent) previous magical blood in his family. His favorite Quidditch team is the Falmouth Falcons, who's motto is "Let us win, but if we cannot win, let us break a few heads." He is also a West Ham United (Hammers) fan.

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