PotterCon is a touring Harry Potter adult-oriented fan event. It has no affiliation with Warner Bros. Entertainment, the Harry Potter book publishers, or the great J. K. Rowling and her representatives.
The first PotterCon took place in a small bar in Brooklyn, sometime in 2013. It began as a quaint celebration, arranged by its founder, Margaret Kaminski – and only ten of her friends were in attendance. From that magical experience, Margaret promised to turn the next PotterCon into a rager, which was held that following year, at The Bell House – also in Brooklyn. Its success attracted hundreds of Potterheads thereafter.
When my girlfriend and her sister learned about PotterCon coming to Long Island on June 11th, we immediately jumped on it. It was held at The Paramount in Huntington, New York – a 2-level nightclub-like concert hall that books well-known performers, bands, and – apparently – events suitable for witches and wizards!
At first, we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. All we knew was that we could cosplay as characters from the Harry Potter universe (including the spinoff series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) and that they would have themed drink specials – which they surely did.
They had “Butterbeer” among the specials, which contained butterscotch schnapps, vanilla vodka, cream soda, and was topped with whipped cream. My group had plenty of those. As for myself, I don’t roll with the sugary mixed drinks, so I just sipped on a couple of non-butter–beers and marveled over my surroundings.
There was a giant chess set spread out on one section of the main level, near one of the bars. Wizards’ Chess, to be accurate.
There were wand duels happening left and right, between some die-hard cosplayers. Among them was . . . He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named! Ah, screw it, it’s Voldemort.
Above, in the balcony, were potions, as well as Quidditch Games and Lessons – this was basically beer pong. We attempted to partake in these activities, but chose not to wait on the long lines in such a cramped space. Instead, we remained on the main level, near the stage, where we witnessed the Sorting Ceremony.
If you are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter franchise, the sorting ceremony is a yearly ritual performed at the beginning of each school year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It takes place in the Great Hall, where The Sorting Hat – when worn by a new student – would assign its bearer to one of the four Houses. This is after a thorough psyche evaluation, of course.
At PotterCon, the Sorting Ceremony was hosted by a humorous young woman, named Elise, if I’m not mistaken, and a magnificent Snape impersonator that goes by Vladimir Snape on all social media platforms.
Snape would draw names from a cauldron, which we all provided upon arrival. To back up a bit, when we were still unsure what was happening, we jumped on a line that allowed us to jot our names on a card, which then got folded up and thrown into the House Cup. By doing so, we received a mermaid tear (a small, clear plastic pebble), which we then had to drop into one of four transparent vessels. Each vessel represented a House, with a common message attached at the bottom.
The messages stated that PotterCon will donate ALL of the proceeds from the Costume Contest to fund a charity, as described below:
Slytherin would fund a charity focused on Natural Resource Conservation.
Ravenclaw would fund a charity focused on providing Tutoring and Writing.
Hufflepuff would fund an organization focused on supporting Equal Human Rights.
Gryffindor would fund a charity focused on supporting Animal Welfare.
The way I understood it – I might be wrong – was that all the activities (beyond the costume contest) would be tallied by the end of the day, and then the winning House would determine which charity gets all the proceeds.
For instance, during the Sorting Ceremony, when Snape called a random name from the cauldron, that individual would sit up on stage, wear the Sorting Hat, and then answer a couple of random questions asked by the hostess. From those random questions, the audience would then shout out their decision.
One side would shout, “Hufflepuff!”
The other would simultaneously shout, “Gryffindor!”
Snape would then state that “Gryfflepuff” is not one of the houses, and then made the final judgment call with his spot-on Alan Rickman voice and mannerisms.
This process repeated for about an hour, as a number of attendees had their chance to be on stage and were sorted into a House.
In the end, there were more Hufflepuffs than Gryffindors, with a random Ravenclaw, and a handful of Slytherins.
The next stage activity that took place was the costume contest, where they called every single cosplayer that applied up to the stage. They all had their moment, as they were each interviewed, one at a time.
Among them were my girlfriend, Maria, dressed as Seraphina, President of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, from Fantastic Beasts, and her sister/my friend, Cheri, dressed as Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts – creatures, props, and all. This activity must’ve been over 2-hours long, as it took a while before they began to call up the top ten finalists – beginning with our very own magizoologist, Newt, who actually became one of the top three winners!
There were more happenings after this, as the entire event ranged from 2pm – 8pm. But, some of us were exhausted and felt it was time to jump on our broomsticks by 6 o’clock. So, we flew back to the Muggle World.
In closing, I highly recommend PotterCon to all Potterheads who are 21-years and over. Just don’t drink and fly, please.
Cue the John Williams music!