By John C. Lynch
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
A trio of friends were among the robed shopgoers sampling chocolate frogs and butter beer as Ellicott City’s Main Street converted to a scene out of a Harry Potter book Oct. 5 and 6.
Alex Wiitala wore Slytherin house robes with a green and white tie. Olivia Costantini donned Gryffindor house robes with a burgundy and gold tie. The third stood out from the others, sporting an unkempt beard in imitation of Hagrid.
“I was actually going to go as Voldemort,” Rosemary Clark said, “but I couldn’t find a bald cap.”
Fans of Harry Potter amassed in Ellicott City during the Wizarding Weekend on Magical Main. The stores on Main Street transformed into Diagon Alley for a weekend and the participating stores and restaurants offered wizarding activities, discounts and special menus. People could also donate $5 and participate in a costume contest hosted by the National Federation of the Blind.
Clark’s friend, Olivia Costantini, is a big fan of Harry Potter. Her friends decided to surprise her this weekend by dressing up in costumes and taking to the town to buy special wizarding items. The group especially liked the toy shop, Forget-Me-Not Factory.
“The shop that we went to has the whole Harry Potter scene built out,” Costantini said. “And you can buy all the different buildings.”
Entering into Forget-Me-Not Factory feels like entering into the Harry Potter world. A man dressed as a wizard greeted people as they entered into the crowded shop. This weekend, it was a common occurrence that employees at the shops were dressed as witches and wizards.
Only a few doors down, a chalkboard sign stood outside of the shop Reclaimed by You. This sign kept a point tally of the Hogwarts House Cup. Inside of the shop there were tall ceilings with four rectangular pieces of wood hanging on strings. The pieces of wood turned slowly like a mobile, revealing the crest of each Hogwarts house painted on them.
The owner of Reclaimed by You, Jennifer Newcomb, stood behind a counter in the middle of the room. Wearing her dark and gloomy witch’s costume, she explained how the Hogwarts House Cup Tournament worked to the people that entered into her store.
During the magical weekend, the store was hosting a competition amongst the Hogwarts houses. They had four stencils available, each representing a different house, and every time somebody makes one, they give a point to their house.
“All of the finished wood crafts in our shop, Reclaimed by You, are made on locally reclaimed wood,” said Newcomb. “That’s what we are using in the workshop right now for the Harry Potter weekend.”
Sweet Cascades Chocolatier had crowds of people hording to the shop to buy their special menu items. This menu had Golden Snitches, Chocolate Frogs and Butter Beer, as well as a few other treats from the series.
In addition to the special items and menus, there were “wizardly” items in each shop that, once located, the patron would receive a Wizarding Weekend postcard. In this scavenger hunt, people could collect all 10 postcards to create a Magical Main book.
The largest shop on the street had a miniature scavenger hunt inside of it.
“I’m telling kids to find three owls in the store,” said Sarah Ramsey, employee at Taylor’s Collective. “I’m giving them lollipops if they find them.”
It was difficult to spot the owls in the eclectic and colorful store. All vendors hosted by the store are local artists, each in different sections of the shop. Walking into each section of the shop felt like walking into a new store every time, with vendors specializing in items such as vintage clothing all the way to musical instruments.
In addition to working as an employee, Ramsey also has her own section in the store. Her section is called Sarah Von Keller: Nifty Vintage Goods. The shop specializes in glassware, furniture and decor. Shoppers filled the ground floor of the shop, browsing the eccentric items.
The 34th annual Trick or Treat on Main Street is coming up soon. Shops and residents will be passing out candy all throughout Ellicott City.
“Any time we have any sort of event in Ellicott City, people just come in droves,” Ramsey said.