West Linn Public Library hosts free Harry Potter Night, sponsored by the WL Library Foundation

COURTESY PHOTO: KALEIGH HENDERSON - There are many different Harry Potter-themed activity stations.For one afternoon, local children will be sorted into their proper house as students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry during West Linn Library's annual Harry Potter Night.

The magical evening will take place Sept. 25 from 2-6 p.m. during an early release Wednesday for West Linn-Wilsonville students — though anyone is invited.

This free event will be back larger than ever with new Harry Potter-themed activities to bring the magical world to life.

Harry Potter Night came to fruition five years ago and has since grown dramatically. Last year 763 people attended the event — about 200 more than the previous year and about 600 more than when the event started.

West Linn High School junior Ashley Chon has volunteered at the library since she was a freshman and is looking forward to volunteering at Harry Potter Night.

"I genuinely love the library and the environment it creates," Chon said. "It will be an afternoon full of magic and the world of wizardry. I am particularly interested in the Sorting Hat. I can't wait to see which house I belong to."

The library has moved to a ticketed system because of the increase in people. This will allow people to enter at different times to keep the lines shorter.

When students arrive they will carefully cross through Platform 9 and 3/4 — plastic hanging sheets resembling bricks — to begin their journey to Hogwarts.

COURTESY PHOTO: KALEIGH HENDERSON - Last year's Harry Potter Night drew in 763 people. They will then use the Sorting Hat to determine which house they are in and will be handed a unique wand — the wands are free for 5- to 18-year-olds and $1 for adults. Students will also receive a booklet to use as an activity guide.

Activities include creating a slime potion, a charms class where they affix objects to an enchanted key chain in an attempt to keep it afloat for as long as possible and the divination station where the color of soda will determine a student's fortune — food colorings are associated with different fortunes.

"My favorite is when it turns red. (That means) there's a romantic possibility in the future," said Rebecca Mayer, teen and tween librarian and organizer of the event along with

Caitrin Lenartz, emerging technologies librarian.

Mayer added that about 90% of the children who receive the red color are 10-year-old boys and it's comical.

"The kids, they love it because you think they would be like 'This is dumb' ... but they just suspend that disbelive; they're just in it," she said. "Everything is fun and interesting. It's a happy program. Everyone's just happy to be there (and) it's always a fun one."

Three Rivers Charter School seventh grader Caroline Laidlaw volunteered at Harry Potter Night last year and was stationed at a booth called Charms.

"Kids could make their keys fly by connecting paper parachutes to their 3D printed keys and put them in wind tubes to watch them 'fly.' The faces and reactions of the younger kids as they realized they were really performing magic made it all worth it in the end," Laidlaw said. "Even though there is a cutoff for age 14 to be a volunteer they made an exception for me because I'm on the Teen Advisory Board. It's always great to do something good for the community. ... There's always that one 6-year old kid who still believes in Harry Potter and can't wait to get their letter."

There will also be several new additions to the event this year.

The librarian will lead a Harry Potter-themed story time and Presto the magician will put on about six different 15-minute magic performances.

"He's got a really awesome program planned for that," Mayer said.

But the event doesn't end — or necessarily start — at the library. As soon as the event begins, there will be a double-decker bus — also referred to as the Knight Bus — transporting people to and from the McLean House in West Linn, which will act as Hogsmeade, the all-wizarding village. At the McLean House there will be refreshments, a Henna booth, a balloon artist and traditional quidditch trials, where people will have five chances to throw a ball into gold hoops at different difficulty levels for points.

"As a firm believer that the third Harry Potter book is the best of the whole series, I can't wait to see how excited people are to see the Knight Bus driving by," Laidlaw said.

There will also be a display of international Harry Potter books. The first book is presented in more than 20 languages and there will be a video describing the difficulty of transcribing fantasy stories in another language.

"One of the highlights is (that) we have the first book in braille," Mayer said. "It's really trippy to see, so we'll have that available."

There are a limited number of tickets available but at 5 p.m. no ticket is required. Folks without a ticket can visit the McLean House prior to visiting the activities stations at 5 p.m.

To reserve a ticket, visit

Mayer said she is asking participants to donate socks and any other new items of clothing. The items will be donated to the West Linn Food Pantry to help someone in need for winter.

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