Bellevue Mayor Emily Marburger didn’t run on a wizarding platform, but her experiences during her campaign led her to create WizardVue, the borough’s first-ever Harry Potter-inspired festival, which takes place this Saturday.
In the course of talking to residents during her campaign, Marburger said she consistently heard about three things people in her town wanted:
- Community activities for kids
- A thriving business district
- People coming into the community
“With this type of event, we could hit all three points of things that people wanted to see, but also go beyond, into supporting childhood literacy,” Marburger said.
The event planning committee has been collecting copies of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to give to all 3rd through 6th grade students at borough schools. Proceeds from the event benefit the town’s Andrew Bayne Memorial Library.
That focus on reading is important to Ellen Genovese, a librarian in Bellevue, who described it as “a librarian’s dream-come-true,” per the Point Park News Service.
“I love that this is celebrating the culture of reading the literature,” Genovese said. “To be able to celebrate that in Bellevue is amazing.”
From the moment Marburger approached Genovese with the idea at a council meeting last year, she was immediately on board.
As for the theme? “Being a 30-year-old, I love Harry Potter,” Marburger said with a laugh.
While many activities are free, wristbands ($10 for ages 10 and up; $5 for under 10) are required for some activities, including:
- Potions and Herbology classes, and a National Aviary owl program at Flamecrest Academy (Bellevue Elementary)
- A borough-wide scavenger hunt for adults
- Lessons in “Flying Broomball,” WizardVue’s version of Quidditch (Bellevue Elementary’s field)
Free activities include:
- Aki’mat Yoga’s wizard yoga (“basilisk cobra” pose)
- Mariposa Theatre’s Harry Potter trivia competition
- Live wizard rock (“wrock”) performances
- An open-mic Wizard Idol talent show
T&M Hardware will host a “Chamber of Serpents” in its basement, a fact that Samantha Post, the company’s HR and marketing manager never thought she’d talk about. The mayor’s encouragement swayed the company to participate. So now, T&M finds itself hosting a giant snake in its “dungeon,” ready to battle sword-holders brave enough to try. Later in the day, a real albino python will be on hand to greet — and maybe talk to — visitors.
You also won’t want to miss a photo session with Kathryn Hyslop Photography in her “magical photo studio.” (She took the photos featured here, so you can expect pictures just as magical as these for your Instagram feed.)
Local businesses will feature themed food and drinks, and most event activities will take place along Lincoln Avenue, the borough’s core business district.
But what about the Muggles (and the non-Potter fans) among us?
“We’ve created a whole world here with lots of activities that would appeal to everyone, even if they’re not a Harry Potter fan,” Marburger said.
She is particularly proud of having convinced the Bellevue Volunteer Fire Company to host a vegan cookout. Featured food trucks include Franktuary, Billu’s Indian Grill, Sinkers and Suds, and Brisketburgh.
Of course, an event like this doesn’t happen with just one person’s efforts. Marburger (a Ravenclaw) credits her planning committee of eight as well as Bellevue’s emergency management team and local business owners for their help in putting together what promises to be a magical time.
Natalie Roberson, a yoga instructor at Aki’Mat Yoga and secretary of Bellevue Dogwood, the borough’s dog park, helped plan WizardVue. After helping with Marburger’s election campaign, she just kept going.
“I wanted to continue with the revitalization of Bellevue and help Emily do that,” she says. “We want to share the magic of Bellevue with everyone in the Pittsburgh area.”
Bellevue is transforming into WizardVue, a magical community filled with activities, performances and Harry Potter-themed fun for all ages. Check out an owl program, practice wizard yoga, and test your knowledge with Potter trivia.
Where: Various locations in Bellevue
When: August 11, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
How much: Many activities are free; $10 wristbands are required for some activities